Skip to main content

tv   Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen Testifies on Border Security  CSPAN  March 10, 2019 10:35am-1:35pm EDT

10:35 am
that. it is how, for instance, the theting press allowed renaissance to come out of northern italy. it is how the first high-speed created the railroad, industrial -- the industrial revolution. the first electronic network, the telegraph allowed for the creation of a national news media. and a national financial system. >> watch the committee caters monday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span two. -- communicators monday night at 8:00 on c-span2. >> kiersten nielsen testified about border security on wednesday. members question her about the president's use of an emergency declaration to fund border wall construction.
10:36 am
and the treatment of migrants and asylum-seekers. >> the committee will come to order. what i would like to do is, for the members of the press, we ask are and part where you take your pictures. we would liken, to accommodate the public behind you.
10:37 am
>> the press folk who are where you are, we will ask that you get to the center. the committee is meeting today to receive testimony on border security. before i begin, i want to express my condolences to those
10:38 am
who lost loved ones in the devastating storms in the southeast on sunday. at least 23 people lost their lives and more were injured in lee county, alabama. i would like to speak for the members of the committee and say that our thoughts and prayers are with you and all of your constituents during this difficult time. in addition, i would like to express our sympathies to congressman cac role, in the loss of his father. inot of us have been there this difficult time. no that we are in support of you. hearing, itoday's has been nearly a year since the secretary of homeland security testified before this committee as well as a number of this
10:39 am
committee for the first time. a great deal has happened in that time. the department of homeland security separated thousands of children from their parents at the border. , themall children theident shut down government over demands for taxpayer money for a border wall. most recently, the president declared a nonexistent emergency at the border because congress would not capitulate to his funding demands. clearly, oversight of the chump administrations border policy is a long overdue. excuse me. chairmanship, the days of oversight by this committee are over. i wrote to secretary nielsen,
10:40 am
asking for documents related to the border wall. the departments interference --h asylum-seekers more than two months later, the committee has received a handful of the requested documents. this is unacceptable. the committee needs this information for its oversight and the department's failure to questions about this administrations committee. obtain theed to information if the secretary fails to comply. today, we will look at what the administration has said and done about border security and line it up against the facts. when it comes to border security, what the american people have heard from the chump administration is misleading at best. the secretary has said the
10:41 am
administration has no policy to separate children from their parents. maranda makes clear she was requireat it would families to be separated. no amount of verbal gymnastics will change that she knew the chump administration was implement a policy to separate families at the border. the department became limiting presentingers, themselves at ports of entry, driving desperate families into more remote parts of the border and overwhelming order personnel and resources in those areas. two young children died when
10:42 am
they became ill in custody. the president shut down the government and declared an emergency. an emergency that does not exist, to get more funding for a wall. the president admitted there is no emergency, even as he was announcing his declaration saying, "i didn't need to do this. i just want to do it faster." the president wants to build a wall so there is something to point to, have his picture taken in front of, to convince the american people he has border security figured out. real security cannot be achieved by a wall on the southern border, blocking asylum-seekers or separating children from parents. these are simplistic solutions that offer little security value, if any, focusing on the southern border to exclusion of threats elsewhere undermines homeland security. today, the secretary can choose whether to be complicit in this administration's misinformation campaign or she can correct the record and start a serious discussion about the way forward on border security. i urge her to choose the latter.
10:43 am
recognize the gentleman from alabama. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, secretary. i appreciate the chairman and his acknowledgment of what happened in my district on sunday. it is breathtaking when you see the devastation of the tornado that was nearly one mile wide and stayed on the ground 70 miles. 23 dead, 90 injured and more than 100 homes destroyed. this committee should take pride
10:44 am
in the fact that we made a difference in this country over the last 15 years. first responders were wonderful. local responders, many of whom trained with federal money, worked their hearts out. fema did a great job. they were ready to go yesterday, kept us informed. they will do a great job rebuilding. we make a difference in what we have done preparing first responders around this country. fema officials will do a great job. i appreciate your prayers as we try to rebuild, search and recovery. thank you, secretary, for everything your department is doing for the citizens of alabama third congressional district. this hearing comes at an important moment. crisis at thewing's
10:45 am
southern border. changing demographics have created challenges for border patrol. most illegal border crossers were young mexican men in the past, and our laws allowed us to return them swiftly to mexico. now there are families and unaccompanied children from central america and beyond. human smugglers are taking advantage of our broken system. smugglers are telling vulnerable families their child is there visa, stay in the united states if they turn themselves in at the border. the propaganda is working. family apprehensions this year are more than 800% higher than 2013. we are seeing migrants arriving in record sizes. these massive groups overwhelm ports of entry. 70 groups of more than 100 migrants each have been apprehended since october, last year. some of these are thousands.
10:46 am
if you're curious, two years ago, we had two groups of more than 100 people. migrants arriving have had a long and arduous journey. smugglers and traffickers do not care about their victims well-being. they only care about making money. they leave these migrants in dangerous conditions without a second thought. 158% increase in migrants needing medical treatment when they crossed the border, last year. this place is border patrol in a perilous situation. search-and-rescue, paramedics, family counselors have served groups of over 100 strangers at a sickle time. gangs -- at a single time. gangs and smugglers are bringing drugs.
10:47 am
cbp seized 895,000 pounds of drugs were seized at the border, including 2100 pounds of fat no. -- fentanyl. 200 milligrams of fentanyl is a fatal dose. a legalnds represents -- lethal dose for 400 million people. if that is not an emergency, i do not know what is. cdp seizes more pounds of drugs between ports of entry than at ports of entry. cdp has seized 11 million pounds of drugs compared to 4 million pounds at ports of entry. we have to stop the flow of illegal immigrants and community destroying drugs across our border. we must put an end to gangs.
10:48 am
the only way to do that is to secure the border. we need manpower, 21st century technology and barriers. with this approach, we will deter human smugglers from crossing hundreds of miles of open desert with innocent children and putting them in danger. fewer drugs will make it into the u.s. the above approach works in areas where we have built a wall system. illegal traffic has plummeted. san diego, it has dropped 92%. 95% in el paso. tucson, dropped 90%. let's build on this success. i have been on this committee
10:49 am
since inception. we never argued about whether barriers worked until donald trump. this is not rocket science. today, many of my democratic colleagues will be calling for the abolition of ice. i do not understand. rather than use this hearing to score political points, i encourage my colleagues to hear from the secretary herself and what the committee can do. i welcome her testimony. i think the chairman and yield back. >> thank you. other members are reminded under committee rules, opening statements may be submitted for record. the chair wishes to remind members of the committee that rule 10a prohibits breaches of committee decorum and allows the chair to respond accordingly.
10:50 am
let me introduce our witness, secretary kirstjen nielsen, has been the secretary of homeland security since december, 2017. she was last before this committee in april, 2018. thank you for joining us today. rise and be sworn in. raise your right hand. do you swear under the penalty of perjury, the testimony you are about to give is true and correct to the best of your knowledge, information and beliefs, so help you god? the witnesses full statement will be inserted in the record. summarize statement for five minutes. >> chairman thompson, ranking member rogers and distinguish members, it is my honor to
10:51 am
appear before you. our department has many missions. our people worked tirelessly every day around-the-clock to strengthen the safety and security of the american people against terrorists, natural disasters and more. i want to applaud them always for their vigilance in protecting us all from persistent and emerging threats. i want to focus on a core mission today, our duty to secure our borders. this is one of the highest priorities of this administration and my department. it is among the most fundamental responsibilities of any sovereign nation. our country remains a beacon of hope, freedom and opportunity to the world. we welcome more immigrants and foreign travelers any year than any other nation on earth. each year, one million people become lawful permanent residence of the u.s..
10:52 am
we want to strengthen legal immigration and welcome more individuals through a merit-based system that enhances economic vitality and the vibrancy of our nation. we continue to pool humanitarian -- uphold our humanitarian ideals. illegal immigration is spiraling out of control, threatening public safety and national security. we face a real, serious and sustained crisis at our borders. tens of thousands of illegal aliens arriving at our doorstep every month, drugs, criminals, violence filing into our country every week, smugglers and traffickers profiting from human misery every day by exploiting people seeking a better life, fueling everything from sexual slavery to child exploitation to the smuggling of illicit goods. this chain of misery is getting worse.
10:53 am
yesterday, we announced the numbers of apprehension have spiked again at the southern border. since last year, 50-60,000 migrants arriving each month, in february, 30% jump over previous month with agents apprehending 75,000 aliens. this is 80% increase over same time last year. cbp is forecasting the problem will get worse this spring. projections are dire. the agency is on track to apprehend more illegal migrants in the first six months of this fiscal year and the entirety of fy '17. we are on track to encounter one million illegal aliens at the southern border this year. capacity is restrained. these increases will overwhelm the system.
10:54 am
this is not a manufactured crisis. this is truly an emergency. what is different about the current migrant flow, is not just how many people are coming, but who is arriving. historically, illegal aliens crossing into u.s., with no legal right to stay, who we could quickly detain and remove in 48 hours. we have seen children and families skyrocket. 60% of current flow our family units, unaccompanied children, 60% non-mexican. because of a massive backlog, we are often forced to release groups into the u.s. and we have no hope of removing them in the future. our ability to help those in need is limited. the vast majority are from
10:55 am
central america, many of them initially claim asylum and are let in, only one in 10 are ultimately granted asylum by a judge. when it comes time to remove the other 90%, they have disappeared into the interior. smugglers and traffickers have caught on, realizing that outdated laws give them a free ticket into america. info about weaknesses in our system have spreads quickly -- spread quickly and central america and are advertised. our booming economy under president trump has made the dangerous journey more attractive. the flow of families and children has become a flood, past five years, 620% increase in families or those posing as families. last fiscal year, highest on record. the children are being used as pawns to get into our country.
10:56 am
we have encountered recycling rings where innocent young people are used multiple times. we cannot stand for this. we must fix the system. this has created a humanitarian catastrophe. in one study, more than 30% of women reported sexual assault along the way and 70% of migrants reported violence. smugglers are forcing them into inhumane conditions, demanding extraordinary sums of money and putting their lives in danger. especially children, vulnerable populations are coming in sicker than ever before. this is a national security crisis. pco's are using the situation to line their pockets. fueling a rise in other illegal activity and the spread of
10:57 am
violent activity in our country. gang members are smuggling new recruits into the u.s. with cbp, recording 50% spike over last fiscal year -- over the last fiscal year. illicit goods, drugs, and threat actors are coming across the border. what are we doing about this? at the president's direction we are confronting this head-on. let me quickly summarize. we have championed a border wall system, which includes infrastructure technology and additional personnel. we have used every authority, worked with the pentagon to deploy troops to the southern border, helping us to achieve thousands of apprehensions. we have dramatically increased referrals for prosecution of single adults illegally crossing from 12% at the start of the administration to 50% today. we have worked tirelessly with
10:58 am
the northern triangle countries. i can attest to the many trips that i have made and the conversations i have had. we are dealing with the root causes of migration at the source. i talk to my counterparts in central america weekly and travel regularly. this month, we expect to sign a historical regional compact with those countries to counter trafficking and the formation of caravans. this is something i have been pursuing for years. we have stepped of e -- stepped up efforts to prevent the assault of women and children. we have intensified operations to seize illicit drugs, especially opioids, through the deployment of technology.
10:59 am
we are putting in place important measures to reduce asylum fraud. this includes having certain individuals wait in mexico until claims are processed and they are afforded humanitarian protection. it is simply still not enough. we need congress to act so we can take operational control of the border as congress directed us in law to do. to protect vulnerable populations, to reduce drug flow in america and confront human trafficking. until we deal with the outdated laws, the situation will only get worse. the laws are not keeping up with the migrant flows. the gaps are obvious. the laws must be revised to address technological advances and emerging threats, and they
11:00 am
must be changed to address different circumstances at the if migrants arrived with children, we can only detain them for days and then we must release them. >> please summarize the statement. >> >> we need congress to change the law, to promote family unity and to close loopholes that allow dangerous criminals into our communities. i am happy to talk about our activities with another triangle, but i would like to conclude by asking for congress to work with me. i'm happy to meet with anyone who has a solution. no rational person would design a system like we have today. it is dangerous for americans, migrants and undermines our values. it fails to uphold our
11:01 am
fundamental obligations to the american people. although we may disagree on solutions, i hope there can be a consensus that the current system is not working, and that this is an emergency we must address together. i look forward to your questions. >> thank you very much. we allowed you to go over because some people need to hear you for the first time. >> i appreciate that, sir. >> thank you. as i said, madam secretary, we have sent requests for a number of information to you and we have not gotten the information back. can you commit to this committee to get that information back? >> yes, sir. >> in detail -- it is not where it needs to be. i want to encourage you that.
11:02 am
asylum-seekers. a lot of us have had an opportunity to talk to people involved. can you tell the committee why asylum-seekers are being turned around, contrary to law? >> sir, all asylum-seekers have the opportunity to present their case. we are not turning anyone around. what we are doing is we are exercising statutory authority enabling us to, in conjunction with mexico, to return to mexico migrants who have arrived from that country to await processing. this is to ensure safe and orderly flow and that there are humanitarian rights, protected. >> your testimony is that, to your knowledge, no one presents
11:03 am
themselves for asylum, and is not prevented their rights, as to what they have to do? >> our policy and process when we encounter an alien, we provide them information, ability to access counsel. i'm not sure if you are or -- if you are referring to credible fear. if you do not pass that initial screening, you can appeal. generally speaking, you do not go on to meet before an immigration judge. >> is that something you do in writing or orally? >> both. they are presented with information in writing and we advise them orally. can you present this committee with the written directions that your asylum-seekers receive? sec. nielsen: yes. rep. thompson: the other situation is the president made
11:04 am
a comment that he really didn't need to do the emergency declaration. he just wanted to do it faster. do you have any information for the committee as to what he was talking about? sec. nielsen: my conversations, of course, with the president, generally speaking, are protected under privilege. but what i would say, his explanation in general in public has been that he hoped congress would act, that it didn't have to come to issuing the emergency declaration, if congress had met his requests to fund the resources that cpb has requested. rep. thompson: to your knowledge, are you aware family members who have been separated from their children and deported back to a country without their children? sec. nielsen: yes, sir. rep. thompson: can you provide this committee with a list of
11:05 am
those individuals? sec. nielsen: i am happy to do that with the one caveat that, as you know, that's part of ongoing litigation. as long there is no privacy concerns from the court of , course we are happy to provide that. a lot of the information is in the court with respect to each migrant. i would note with longstanding practice and the law, before we deport any alien, after they have gone through the process and receive a final order of removal, we do ask them if they would like to take their children with them. at the same time, the consulate or embassy for purposes of issuing travel papers asks them would you like to be removed with your children as you are removed? as part of misl, the judges asks us to ask in conjunction with the aclu, which we did. there was no parent who has been deported to my knowledge without multiple opportunities to take their children with them. rep. thompson: so is this with counsel present? sec. nielsen: i'm sorry?
11:06 am
rep. thompson: is this -- their attorney present? sec. nielsen: i can't speak to every case with that, sir. they have the right to a counsel, as you know. but the united states government does not pay for that, pursuant to law. rep. thompson: explain how one would acquire counsel if they don't know it. sec. nielsen: we give them lists of available resources, legal resources in the area. we work closely with the ngo's to ensure that they understand the options for that and then certainly when they work with consulates and embassies as part of the removal process to receive the travel authorization, the embassies and consulates provide them with information and ability to access counsel. rep. thompson: some of us have been -- had an opportunity to see some of the enhanced barriers being placed on ports of entry. we tried to find a policy directive that said we should
11:07 am
close lanes and put barriers on those -- concrete barriers and barbed wire. are you familiar with any such policy? sec. nielsen: the general direction for the safety of the migrants and the officers working at the ports of entry is to ensure a controlled environment, particularly after we saw the violence from one of the caravans in the fall. many of the local border chiefs, border sector -- excuse me, the o.p.f.o. officers at the ports determined what was needed to ensure that there was safety and security at the ports. that's for the migrants, that's for the officers. generally speaking, that was done on a case by case situation with the overall direction to ensure the integrity and safety of that area. rep. thompson: there is no written policy? sec. nielsen: it's not a policy, sir, per se. but the direction is clear, to protect officers and migrants
11:08 am
and ensure a safe and orderly flow. to do that we have to make sure , that the migrants go through the designated area. so the enhancements to the port of entry was to disable them from at their own risk, which we have seen many times run across lanes of traffic or try to go around a port of entry. rep. thompson: thank you. the chair now recognizes the ranking member. rep. rogers: thank you, mr. chairman. i want to follow up on something you referenced in your opening statement and then the chair probed you on. to more fully understand this asylum seeker circumstance. you made reference in your statement that 90% of the asylum seekers are denied when they finally have the hearing. the other -- and those 90% generally have already blended into the society. we can't get rid of them. if we know only 10% are going to be approved, based on history, i just don't understand why we let people in while they wait on the hearing. you made reference in your statement that many of them are allowed to stay in mexico until
11:09 am
their hearing date. my question is, why aren't all of them required to stay in mexico until the hearing date, so that way we can monitor them while they are here for the hearing, and, if approved, they can stay, if they cannot, they go back to mexico. is that because of some statutory reason or why? sec. nielsen: it's actually more based around we're trying to do this in a very reasoned way. we are expanding that program across the border. we work and notify the mexicans as we do that. you have seen statements made by their secretary equivalent to secretary pompeo, and my equivalent that they are determined to protect the humanitarian rights. so we do it in conjunction with them as we expand the program we , do it in a systematic way. but the goal is to expand that across the border. rep. rogers: you are trying to
11:10 am
get to the point where. sec. nielsen: yes. rep. rogers: only people can get in for the hearing at the time of the hearing. sec. nielsen: yes. rep. rogers: excellent. what can we help you with to make that happen more rapidly? sec. nielsen: we have all of the authority we need from the underlying ina statute. what we are looking for is additional requests if any we need to come back to you with . this requires some new things. for example, transportation from the ports to the courts. so when we have the court date, we will go back to the port to pick up the migrant, take he or she to the court. that is not a transportation need we have had in the past. that's just one example. but we are looking through to see if we can fund those as we expand the program with our current resources. if not, we would come back with a request. rep. rogers: my understanding is that the mexican government has made available asylum to all asylum seekers who have been coming from south of mexico into the country trying to get to the united states. is that accurate? sec. nielsen: my understanding is they have offered both asylum
11:11 am
to the vast majority, if not all of the migrants, but they have also offered work permits. rep. rogers: so if somebody is fleeing venezuela or honduras because of their concerns over safety, and they get into mexico, by the time they get to mexico's northern border to come in our country, there is no danger to them and their safety. sec. nielsen: my plea to anybody that chooses to take this journey is to please seek protection as soon in the journey as possible. it's an extraordinarily dangerous journey. my advice to migrants throughout the region is please accept protection as soon as possible. rep. rogers: ok. i'd like to give you some time. you made reference to the northern triangle that you, and in your opening statement, you'd like to talk more about it. would you tell us what you had in mind? sec. nielsen: sure. beginning about nine months ago, i traveled to the region many times between the border and the northern triangle in mexico. i've been there about 25 times. and have had multiple discussions with my partners in
11:12 am
the northern triangle. what we're working on together are ways to dismantle transnational criminal organizations, to identify the criminals who are preying on the vulnerable populations to work with international organizations, such as unhcr, to increase asylum capacity in the region, to make sure we are sharing information, so we understand who is in the flow. that latter relates to the increases in special interest aliens that are in the flow. and to make sure that we can keep families together. so how can we design a system that begins at the start to make sure that migrants are protected, and they don't need to take the dangerous journey. rep. rogers: great. do you know how much the smugglers charge people to get across the border, generally? sec. nielsen: so it varies. our estimates and then most recently is last week what we heard from mexican counterparts is about $6,000 a migrant. it's more for families. rep. rogers: to your knowledge, do they coach the migrants as to what to say when they get to the
11:13 am
border to be able to get in? sec. nielsen: we have seen instances absolutely throughout the region where they are provided information on pieces of paper. there is also advertisements through social media. there is a whatsapp conversation particular to this to give them if you will specific words to claim credible fear once they reach the border. rep. rogers: great. thank you. my time is expired. i appreciate your service. rep. thompson: thank you. the chair now recognizes the gentle lady from texas, ms. jackson lee. rep. jackson lee: let me thank the chair and ranking member for holding the hearing and the chairman's leadership on the issues. madam secretary, let me thank you for your service. over of the past couple of months, i'm proud of the members of this committee particularly , my colleagues on the almosttic side, who everyone has been to the border because of their desire to be
11:14 am
proficient and efficient on making the right decisions. and so my knowledge of in committee has been that every single secretary of homeland security i've had a terrific working relationship with, regardless of the presidential politics or party because our commitment here is to secure the nation. i believe if a horrific tragedy happens again, it's this committee and that in the senate that will be looked to by the american people to devise the right approach. do you believe that you as secretary of homeland security have the independence of the white house to make the right decisions? can you make a a decision contrary to the president of the united states on behalf of of american people for what is best for them? sec. nielsen: ma'am, what i can tell you is i take my oath with utmost extreme importance. i always do my best. rep. jackson lee: is your oath to the american people or to the president of the united states? sec. nielsen: no, ma'am, the
11:15 am
oath, as you know, is to the constitution and the people. rep. jackson lee: all right. in that vein, do you have the ability to make independent determinations? sec. nielsen: i do what i believe is best for the men and women of dhs and this country. rep. jackson lee: have you advised the president on his emergency declaration? have you given him the grounds for this emergency declaration in the context of what emergency means? sec. nielsen: what i have done is i've given him all the facts from the men and women working at the border, many of whom i know you have met with. what i do is i give him the operational reality. here is what we are facing, what -- what we are seeing. here are the facts. by my read of it, it's an emergency, dual crisis. that's the information i provided. rep. jackson lee: if there is any data you have given in particular, i'm requesting it be made available to this committee, whether in classified session or not in writing. if there have been any memos you directed to the president, that would have given him the basis of calling for in my opinion a false emergency declaration, i will not judge your data as you
11:16 am
are giving facts, then i would like that to be submitted to this committee. let me -- sec. nielsen: ma'am, if i could i just -- i would be remiss if i didn't say much of the information that i give in private to the president of course is covered under a confidentiality privileges. we're happy to give you any information that we work on from operators. we are very transparent. most of that information, as you know, is published at our website. happy to give that you. but i would not be able to speak to any particular conversation i had with the president. rep. jackson lee: i will not dwell on that. i will leave it to the chairman of the full committee on the question of confidentiality. i think members of congress are due classified information and there is a question of confidentiality or privilege, i am not sure what you are exerting here. sec. nielsen: it's not mine to exert or waive. rep. jackson lee: i would say i would want the material you had provided to the president of the united states to make his decision. let me ask you, do you have a census of all of the children that are being detained in the various facilities, both the
11:17 am
ones at the border and others that are in partnership with hhs? do you know how many young people are detained? sec. nielsen: yes, ma'am. i don't have the number in front of me. we have all of the numbers. rep. jackson lee: would you provide that for me? sec. nielsen: yes. rep. jackson lee: the next question is, what is the pathway of reuniting those children detained -- my number is about 12,000 plus -- what is the pathway for reuniting those children presently existing in detention centers, who have been there for one year, two year, three years plus? sec. nielsen: so the best data that we have is the data that's been approved from the miss l. case. i believe you have access to that. i don't want to take up time, unless you'd like me to in reading it, but it walks through how many children remain in the custody. rep. jackson lee: can you give me a number for the record? sec. nielsen: there is -- sure. it breaks down to the original 2816 that the court identified, 2735 have been detained.
11:18 am
-- have been discharged. rep. jackson lee: i'm asking for those that in the partnership between homeland security and hhs you have centers around the nation, some run by southwest keys upwards of 12,000 children. have you tried to reunite them with some guardian or family member? sec. nielsen: yes. so hhs, as you know, under tvpra is required to find a sponsor for the child. that's what they do. that's part of. rep. jackson lee: that's a program that i designed and i believe that it should be in cooperation and i'm asking to ask you on the record to not to give the answer now but i need to to know the numbers and how many are united. i.c.e. has represented they are stopping the families from being reunited. sec. nielsen: i.c.e. is not stopping families from being represented. reunited. they are reunited. there are three instances in longstanding practice which cpb, not i.c.e. encounters a family unit presenting as a family unit where separation may be necessary. the first one is if the adult accompanying that child is not a
11:19 am
parent or legal guardian. the second, if there is a risk to the child. and the third is if the parent or otherwise needs to go to a custodial prosecutial setting. longstanding process. the numbers are not high. happy to provide them with you. but that's what cpb does at the border for the protection of the child. rep. jackson lee: mr. chair, thank you. i'll have questions for the record and the answers have not been given. thank you very much. rep. thompson: thank you very much. the chair recognizes the gentleman from new york, mr. king. rep. king: thank you, chairman. second, thank you for your service, and i appreciate you being here today. i'd like to focus on unaccompanied minors, involving ms-13, my district is propping -- is probably the epicenter of ms 13. we had a series of 25 murders within 18 months in the fall of 2015 to the spring of 2017. i think almost all of the victims were immigrants, documented and undocumented. so it was a slaughter within the
11:20 am
immigrant community. what we found was that many of those murders were carried out by unaccompanied minors. i think the most recent series of indictments, of the 11 indicted for murder, seven had come across as unaccompanied minors. let me commend your department and others, since april of 2017, there have been no murders. 25 in the previous 18 months. none in suffolk county since then, and i commend you for that. hsi has done an outstanding job. fbi, justice department, and police, i thank you for that. what was found at the time was that these minors coming across, a number of them were sent by ms-13, or the families volunteered to take them in from hhs, were either supporters of ms-13 or had relatives back in central america whose lives are threatened if they did not take them in. and then they went in the schools, and in certain schools, there are areas of the school
11:21 am
that were taken over by ms-13 young people. again, as i said a series -- a large number of the murders were carried out by ms-13. what the police said at the time was that they were concerned there was no vetting. maybe this is more of an hhs issue. but as to whether they had any ms-13 connections or was vetting of the families volunteering to take them. nor were the local police notified when the unaccompanied minors were coming into the school district. i ask you now, is there increased vetting to knowing whether or not these unaccompanied minors have any ms-13 connections, the families volunteering to take them have ms-13 connections, and are local law enforcement notified when these unaccompanied minors come into their districts? sec. nielsen: thank you. let me take them bite sizes. we do now do background checks. one of the things i was very
11:22 am
concerned about when i came in as secretary is that we were not doing enough to protect children to ensure that the adult coming to pick them up did not pose a threat. one of the threats is if the adult was part of ms-13. we now do background checks. hhs uses the information to determine the suitability of the sponsor before they release the child. i'm not aware and i'm happy to get back to you for the record, i'm not aware if hhs consistently tells communities where uac's are placed, and if there is a concern that the uac might have gang ties. i'm not aware of that, but i'm happy to get you that information from hhs. on the front end, when we encounter uac's, if we believe they are a risk in any way, the brief time that we have them before we transfer them to hhs, we will separate them out from the other population of children, for the safety of the other children. but other than that, we do not
11:23 am
have a systematic way to ask uac's or look into their background while they're in our custody. rep. king: do you feel it's enough cooperation between dhs and hhs? sec. nielsen: we do work very closely together day to day. we share the modeling, the projections, what children are coming in, what children they're releasing. it does, in my opinion, need to be a bit stronger with respect to ensuring that the sponsors do not pose a threat. rep. king: ok. thank you, secretary. i yield back. thank you for your efforts. again, that drop-off in murders from 25 to 0. thank you very much. rep. thompson: the chair now recognizes the gentleman from rhode island. mr. langevin. rep. langevin: thank you, mr. chairman. madam secretary, thank you for being here today. we all want stronger border security. the question is what is the best way of getting us there. not creating a solution that is
11:24 am
a political promise but doesn't really achieve strong border security. i want to follow up on an issue brought up by the chairman regarding border crossings. i've long held that, and i have an interest in ensuring we're making policy based on sound data and credible threats. it is my understanding, and you've testified to some of this this morning, your department keeps accurate statistics of the number of apprehensions at the border, is that correct? sec. nielsen: apologies, yes. rep. langevin: and these statistics are compiled annually by u.s. customs and border protection and published publicly on its website? that's correct? sec. nielsen: yes. we compile them monthly and publish them, but yes. rep. langevin: according to this report, so the number of apprehensions at the border in 2000 was 1.6 million, does that sound right? sec. nielsen: it was over a
11:25 am
million, yes, sir. rep. langevin: ok. and these statistics show that in 2018, the number of apprehensions had fallen to just under 400,000. that's a drop of 75%, is that right? sec. nielsen: yes. sounds about right. rep. langevin: i have a chart that i would like to display that shows the change in apprehensions. so i want to ask you about what the president has said about border apprehensions. while touring the south texas border on january 10, the president stated at the border -- stated all of the border patrol, "there are never so many apprehensions ever in our history." so secretary nielsen, what the president said is not accurate, was it? sec. nielsen: i apologize. i do not know the full context
11:26 am
of that. what i can tell you is we have encountered more family units per month than in history. rep. langevin: what the president said is accurate or not? sec. nielsen: i don't know the context of his statement. if he was talking about family units in a sector -- rep. langevin: i'm talking about the number we went from 1.6 million in 2000 apprehensions and 400,000 in 2018. the president said that "there were never so many apprehensions at the border in our history up until now," is that accurate? was the president accurate? sec. nielsen: again, it depends on the context, because it depends on the type of migrant, sir. rep. langevin: it's either -- the 400,000 figure is accurate or not? if it's accurate, the president was not accurate, that is correct? sec. nielsen: again, we've had -- we've had monumental high numbers in some areas of the border -- rep. langevin: mr. chairman, i'm trying to get a yes or no. sec. nielsen: sir, i don't know the context -- rep. langevin: seems
11:27 am
self-evident to me. sec. nielsen: i don't know the context of his statement. i'm trying to give you my most accurate testimony. what i can tell you in some places we have had record months all families. in some areas we have had record , numbers of apprehensions. rep. langevin: ok. rep. thompson: the gentleman, i think he's asking for the total number. not a selected category. sec. nielsen: the total number we are on track for this year for 900,000 apprehensions at the border. rep. thompson: that wasn't the question. sec. nielsen: ok. rep. langevin: is the president misleading the american people? is he accurate in what he's saying? the largest amount of detentions or is it not, at the border? sec. nielsen: in some categories, we have had record-breaking apprehensions. rep. langevin: well, the president's claim, in the way i read it, misled the american people. it gave the public flawed information on a key border question. did you take any steps to
11:28 am
correct the information when the president stated what he did? sec. nielsen: we provide information that we gather from cbp, and all of our components, for that matter, we provide them as a matter of course to the white house, and we try to put those numbers in context. rep. langevin: madam secretary, the reason i ask these questions, is they go directly to the heart of the rationale for the president's emergency declaration. the president has been telling the public that there's an emergency at the border because crossings and apprehensions are at record high levels, but as you really have conceded yourself, in the testimony, the facts are exactly the opposite when you're looking at the actual number. apprehensions today are substantially smaller than 20 years ago. my time is expired, but it is
11:29 am
inaccurate, deceitful, i believe, to be inflating numbers or making statements that aren't accurate and the president is wrong. sec. nielsen: chairman, would you mind if i just responded briefly? what i would say, sir, the larger question is about the emergency. unfortunately what we're seeing , is very different situations. it's not just the number. it's the abuse of the migrants along the way, it's the sexual abuse, it's the violence, it's the new phenomena that we see of large groups coming, which the system was not prepared to care for. many of our facilities were made for maybe 100 people a day. we're seeing 1500 family units in a given sector on a given day. so when you put all of the facts together, the problem is not just the vastly increasing numbers, and again we jumped another 30% from last month, but it's the type of migrant that our system is not set up to
11:30 am
protect. originally, it was single adults from mexico, now it's mostly central americans, and the vast majority are vulnerable populations, which are families and children. all of that is a crisis, because the system is not built for that type of flow. rep. thompson: mr. langevin, we will follow up with some more direct information on that. i would ask the secretary, yes or no would be very helpful in some of the questions that you asked, and i think that is what he was trying to get to. not anything else. the chair recognizes the gentleman from texas, mr. mccaul. rep. mccaul: thank you, mr. chairman. madam secretary, welcome to this committee. i've been following the border probably longer than i care to. back when i was a u.s. attorney in the western district of
11:31 am
texas, to 15 years on this committee, chairman of this committee, hard to get a good solution, but i can tell you, at least as i see it, i just want to get your understanding, that the threat has changed? it used to be in the old days, we had predominantly males crossing for work. now we have more family units than ever crossing, because the coyotes understand the legal loopholes we talked about, and they now know how to exploit them and they are. they're making a heck of a lot of money off of it in the process and putting children in harm's way up that dangerous journey as they go northbound. in fact, in february, i think the apprehensions were 76,000 immigrants apprehended at the border. then you throw on the fentanyl,
11:32 am
the meth labs, the dangerous drugs coming into this country, the human sex trafficking -- i think it is a crisis. i think the president is correct in saying it's an emergency and that we need dire action now. i'm disappointed we didn't pass the mccaul bill last november. i think that would have solved a lot of these problems. about every democrat voted against it, and 20 republicans voted against it. that was a historic opportunity, and here we are talking about this problem when we know that the laws of the magnet that draw them into the united states of america. and until congress acts -- i look at you, and i feel -- not sorry, but it's not your fault. it's congress that has failed to act to solve this problem. until congress acts to solve the problem, we're going to continue to have this constant problem on our border.
11:33 am
the president is doing everything he can, in a creative way, as well, to get security down there, that i think is very important. but i want to also talk about root causes. you talk about the northern triangle. you spent a lot of time down there, and i'm going down with -- putting my foreign affairs hat on, the chairman of foreign affairs committee, going to colombia and venezuela. you have 3 million migrants coming out of venezuela into colombia, and they are probably going to start heading north. this is a humanitarian crisis. and it is getting worse. we are also going to go to the northern triangle. can you tell is the latest on the central american security initiative and how we can stop payingamilies from $6,000. you must be very desperate to say here, coyote.
11:34 am
i'm going to give you $6,000 to take my child up north. a very desperate situation. what can we do to stop that desperation? sec. nielsen: i would just in the time that i have let me just give you a couple examples and i can also refer back to a question that congresswoman jackson lee asked me. the number of unaccompanied children is part of the humanitarian crisis. these are children whose parents decided to send them alone on a very, very dangerous journey at the hands of most often smugglers and coyotes or traffickers into the united states. what we hear from the northern triangle governments, they have said this publicly and i am sure they will tell you when they visit them they want their children back. our laws uniquely allow us to send mexican children back home after they have gone through a process do not have a legal right to stay, but under the
11:35 am
law, we cannot send children from other countries back except from mexico and canada. the northern triangle governments will say to you, please send us our children back. we want them reunited with their families and communities here. we don't want the smugglers to be able to convince parents to send their children on this perilous journey where they are absolutely victims of violence and abused. as you know, sir, very unfortunately because of the inincrease in violence at i.c.e., when we have families with children, we have to give every girl a pregnancy test over 10. this is not a safe journey. i ask again we change the law and treat all children the same and afford them the opportunity to go back home if they have no legal right to be in the united states. the other part of this that i think we need to do is we need to find a way to keep families together. families need to be able to be kept together, go through the process, if they have a legal right to stay we will welcome them here.
11:36 am
if they don't have a legal right to stay the most humanitarian , thing to do is to remove them efficiently and effectively. both of those changes we need from congress. >> thank you, madam secretary. i see my time has expired. >> thank you very much. the chair recognizes the gentle lady from new york, miss rice. >> thank you, mr. chairman. madam secretary, i want to ask you to qualify the question asked before. can you confirm that there has never been a parent deported under your tenure without finding out if they want their children to go with them? simply yes or no? can you confirm that? sec. nielsen: to the best of my knowledge every parent was , afforded that option. secretary nielsen, on june 17th, 2018, you tweeted we do not have a policy of separating families at the border. period. then attorney general jeff sessions announced the justice department's zero tolerance policy to prosecute all individuals who cross the border outside of ports of entry, and
11:37 am
he made that announcement april sixth of 2018. in a memo to you dated april 23rd, regarding the justice department's zero tolerance policy cbp commissioner kevin mcalienen, director francis sisna and then i.c.e. acting director thomas hohman, stated dhs could also per miserably -- permissibly direct the separation of parents or legal guardians and minors held in immigration detention so that the parent or legal guardian can be prosecuted pursuant to these authorities. did you read that memo yes or , no? sec. nielsen: yes. >> did you concur with this assessment made by your component agency leaders, yes or no? sec. nielsen: many assessments in there, i conquered with their recommendation on what to do to increase consequences for those crossing the border illegally. >> the piece i just read, do you concur with that? sec. nielsen: i'm sorry. could you read that particular --
11:38 am
>> dhs could direct the separation of parents or legal guardians and minors held in immigration detention so that the parent or legal guardian can be prosecuted pursuant to these authorities? that statement. sec. nielsen: as i understand it we have the legal authority to , do that. >> did you agree with that? sec. nielsen: what i agreed to do -- >> did you agree with that assessment they made. sec. nielsen: that wasn't a recommendation. it's a legal statement. we have the legal authority to do it as i understand it. were you aware that zero tolerance policy would lead to minors being separated from their parents? yes or no? sec. nielsen: as we increased consequences for those who break the law just as everywhere yes or >> i have such limited time. i'm sure you can appreciate that. sec. nielsen: as a consequence for the parent going to jail we in this country do not take the children to jail. >> so i take that is a yes, that you understood the zero tolerance policy was going to lead to minors separated from their parents. sec. nielsen: as it has in the last three administrations. >> ok. so the answer is yes. at the end of february, buzzfeed reported that you did not issue guidance on how to implement the zero tolerance policy until may
11:39 am
which was about a month after fourth, the attorney general sessions announced the policy. did you discuss this policy with attorney general sessions before he announced it on april 6? yes or no? sec. nielsen: this was an ongoing discussion. >> yes or no, did you discuss zero tolerance policy with the then attorney general sessions? before he made the announcement on april 6, yes or no? sec. nielsen: at some time before the announcement we had a conversation. i did not know he was making that announcement that day. >> but you had a conversation with him about the zero tolerance policy, yes or no. sec. nielsen: zero tolerance means prosecuting those who break the law. >> yes, thank you. sec. nielsen: we talked about prosecuting those who break the law. >> why did you wait until may fourth two -- may 4 to issue implementation guidelines? sec. nielsen: because we wanted to work within the department to ensure we could do it in an appropriately safe way with
11:40 am
compassion as you mentioned, the memo from my heads came april 23rd and issued after many consultations with them, the direction to increase prosecution between ports of entry which is the only place , where that's the -- where that's against the law for all adults coming across the border illegally. >> we all know the results of the policy and the compassionate or lack of compassion sec. nielsen: it's not a policy. it's the law. we enforce the law. >> the policy is a policy. you just talked about discussing that policy with the then attorney general. i have three quick questions. during your tenure as secretary, how many times have you waived environmental regulations required under the endangered species act for border barrier construction? sec. nielsen: there are multiple laws we look at. i'm trying to answer it. i believe but i will get you the 45, exact answer. >> thank you. during your tenure as secretary, how many times have you waived environmental regulations under the clean water act for border -- sec. nielsen: it would be the same number. i'm happy to get you the exact number. >> during your tenure as secretary how many times have
11:41 am
you waived environmental regulations under the clean air act for border barrier construction? sec. nielsen: it should be the same. i'll get you the number. >> ok. thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you very much. the chair recognizes the gentleman from new york. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for the kind words about my father. i very much appreciate it. welcome, miss nielsen. nice to see you again. i have a rather unique perspective on the border and a lot of people will be talking about the immigration component, but the crisis is not just with respect to immigration. it's with respect to the drugs that are pouring across this border and killing our kids at a rate of five an hour for heroin alone which is frightening. , one of the components is fentanyl. just a tiny amount of fentanyl is what's proving fatal in most of the overdoses because fentanyl is being mixed with the heroin. can you tell us if there's been of fentanylseizures
11:42 am
at the border? >> yes, and in the interior as well. i.c.e., you know, overall interdicted enough fentanyl last year to kill every american twice over. substantial amounts. >> that's enough to kill every single american? sec. nielsen: twice. yes, sir. >> amazing. now, when i was on the border, i was a federal prosecutor in el paso, texas, and i was charged going after cartel level drug traffickers and we could literally get on the roof of the u.s. attorney's office in el paso, with binoculars and see one of the cartel members' houses across the border in warez. juarez. i'm familiar based on the prosecutions i did there about their patterns and practices. and i know that they use often times the same smuggling routes for drugs that they use those for human traffickers as well. i also know that when you beef up security and you beef up scrutiny at the ports of entry, at least back when i was there in the mid- they often simply 1990's, went around and avoided the ports of entry. can you tell me, is that still holding true today, if you put a
11:43 am
pressure point in one place they find the other holes in the border and go across there? sec. nielsen: yes, sir that is still true. >> ok. with respect to that, is it important, is it fair to say it's important that if you have -- if you increase the scrutiny at the ports of entry, which is absolutely critical, that you also need to beef up the other parts of the border with barriers where necessary and sensors and all the other things? >> it's not an either or. that's exactly right. that's my point. so i think it's incumbent when we have this discussion to understand that we all agree, on both sides of the aisle, that beefing up the ports of entry and the security and using the highest technology we can is critically important. i was always amazed at the ingenuity of the drug traffickers in secreting the drugs and humans in vehicles coming into the ports of entry. we got to do that. as soon as you do that, they're going to go out to the areas where the weak points are. can you tell me where the weak
11:44 am
points are now that need barriers? sec. nielsen: sure. particularly in the rio grande valley, which is one of the areas that we will focus on with the new border funding. el paso is a particular area where we see increased flow, particularly with the number of families. it is well over a 1,000% increase in families traveling through that area. when i say el paso, the sector. el paso sector. yes, sir through the ports of entry. so those are the two main areas as you know we have a border security improvement plan we provide that we update each year and go on a risk based way. >> the barrier that's being contemplated has been the subject of much consternation over the last several months it's not for the entire southern , border? sec. nielsen: no, sir. >> how much are we talking about? how many more additional miles of barrier? sec. nielsen: about 700. little more than 700. >> is it fair to say that up until this administration, it's
11:45 am
been a pretty bipartisan agreement that barriers are needed at certain points along the border? sec. nielsen: yes, sir. >> i want to switch gears if i may for a moment, with respect to cybersecurity, which i'm the ranking member of that subcommittee now. there's a bill we will be submitting next week that suggests and asks that a cyber security and infrastructure advisory committee be created similar to what we did with tsa and the committee. are you familiar at all with and do you think an committee is necessary? sec. nielsen: so we're happy to work with you on that. we have a critical infrastructure advisory council already, but we have been looking into something if we can focus on cyber because it is a unique expertise as you well now know. we're happy to continue to have our staff work with you on that. >> right. it's fair to say cyber security is probably one of the biggest threats for our country right now overall and so the more we can have information flowing going back and forth between the stakeholders and homeland
11:46 am
security the better it's going , to be. sec. nielsen: yes, sir. i know it's not the particular topic today but i will say as i , have said before, the threat to cyber security is blinking red. it is absolutely one of if not the highest threat we face in the homeland. >> thank you. i yield back. >> thank you. the chair recognizes the gentleman from california. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for holding this and -- this most important meeting. i wanted to quickly follow up with some of the comments from my colleagues from new york. would you say, are we going to look -- there's so much money in drugs now. sec. nielsen: yes, sir. >> you just came back from the northern triangle. that's causing all kinds of problems. our u.s. dollars corrupting the systems in central america. so as you continue to squeeze
11:47 am
the southern border would you , say our seaports are also going to be susceptible to being areas of smuggling and possibly the northern border, canadian border? would you say that is also a place that could be used if not now but in the future by smugglers to bring in drugs? sec. nielsen: we do it all based on risks. but criminals will find a way unfortunately to do whatever their criminal act >> as long as we keep paying for those unfortunately those , illicit drugs, people will find a way. sec. nielsen: a drug demand is a large problem. yes, sir. >> thank you. i'm going to shift quickly, ma'am. last year secretary nielsen, i , sent you a letter regarding family separation dated june 20th, 2018, i have not gotten a response yet from your office that's satisfactory. these are black and white questions. i re submitted this letter to your border patrol chief last week and i'm going to submit the same letter to you today. i'm hoping that we can work together to find some answers for these questions. family separations. one of my new assignments i'm going to be chair of a
11:48 am
subcommittee on tsa security, and like everybody else on this committee we're concerned about , safety especially terrorists, anti terrorist activities and you stated recently that to congress in fiscal 2017, dhs prevented 3700 known or suspected terrorists from coming into the u.s. i think most of these were being stopped at our airports, is that correct? sec. nielsen: yes, sir. >> something like 3700 were actually stopped by our tsa agents at airports. maybe less than 100 southern -- excuse me. less than 10 at the southern border and more like 100 at our northern border. does that sound right? sec. nielsen: the majority were through the air environment. the only thing i would add is many of them are identified by cbp as part of the vetting before they travel. so they're either stopped from
11:49 am
traveling or as you say stopped by tsa or cbp once they arrive. >> so this is work that you do in coordination with other nations around the world, brazil? i know brazil is very popular. a jump off point to the u.s. in terms of possible suspected terrorists? sec. nielsen: brazil has a much more open visa enterprise and so because of that, yes, sir, we do see it being exploited unfortunately. >> the reason i ask this because i want to do a deeper dive into some of these numbers to really put our resources to where we need to focus on stopping terrace. -- stopping terrorists. fiscal year 2018, cbp data, only six suspects caught at the southern border? i presume you continue to have the vast number being stopped at our airports. >> so i can't speak to as you can understand, i can't speak to that particular number of terrorist stop at the -- stop at
11:50 am
the southern border because that is classified. >> i will look forward to working with you in a classified setting to address these issues. sec. nielsen: i would be happy to. quickly for perspective what i would say as you know there's another category called special interest aliens those who have been identified as individuals who travel or have other aspects that are similar to a terrorist. we do see increasing numbers of those coming throughout the system. >> let me say that i'm running out of time and want to work with you on these issues. our tsa officers, i'm concerned because tsa was put together after 9/11 and they were actually being paid by the airports at that time. now we find out tsa officers have to be professionals. they have to be well trained because we see where the challenge is when it comes to stopping terrorists coming into the u.s. i look forward to working with you and coming up with package to make sure they're the best of the best. i want to say i was in the northern triangle the day or so before you were there.
11:51 am
i want to say hats off to the countries trying to work with us. i know honduras, for example, the jump out point to the caravan, the president of honduras told us 90% of the first caravan, those folks had been returned to honduras. second caravan, about 5,000, 60% had been returned, and the rest has actually stayed in mexico. what i'm trying to say if i make my factual point if i have more time this is not a border issue. , this is a regional refugee challenge. my colleague talked about all the refugees from venezuela to colombia. but this is a refugee issue. mexico, i understand is holding a lot of those refugees and offering them in your words permits to stay, work permits. i'm hoping we can turn the discussion from building a wall and border security to addressing a refugee crisis in this continent.
11:52 am
the one if i may, mr. chairman, the one word people in central america kept repeating to me was, folks in central america want hope. hope for better life, better job, some security. i hope we can sit down and put the political rhetoric aside and focus on giving these human beings a little bit of hope of staying and building lives. mr. chair, i yield. >> thank you very much. the chair recognizes the gentleman from north carolina, mr. walker. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, secretary nielsen for being here today. secretary nielsen, what is the volume of drugs coming through the southern border illegally? sec. nielsen: i don't have the exact figure at my fingertips, but it is going up, particularly cocaine, methamphetamine and unfortunately fentanyl. >> our numbers show us fiscal year, about 15 million pounds seized. does that sound like that's in
11:53 am
the ballpark? sec. nielsen: it does but sounds like it might not include the coast guard. >> would you say that's a crisis? 15 million pounds? sec. nielsen: yes, sir. >> we talked about fentanyl earlier. drug so powerful that less than five pounds can kill over a million people. our numbers show that almost 700 pounds in fiscal year 2018. does that sound in the ballpark? sec. nielsen: yes. >> would that be a crisis to the dhs? sec. nielsen: it is because it is an extraordinary danger to our communities but also a danger to those inspecting packages. we've spent a lot of time on training and had to do a lot of things differently even for the dogs who were dying just by virtue of breathing the fumes from the fentanyl. >> we talked about the amount of individuals people coming across the southern border, do you have any estimates per year what that looks like? sec. nielsen: we are on track right now to be at 900,000 this year. >> ok. our apprehensions of family units and italians of
11:54 am
accompanied alien children are increasing or decreasing? sec. nielsen: they are increasing rapidly. family units went up around 30% from last month and the same for uac's. >> i think fiscal year 2018, the number was 107,000 already the first four months of 99,000. have you had a chance to meet former dhs secretary jeh johnson? sec. nielsen: yes. >> ok. i wonder if he would also consider this a crisis because since the previous administration, that number has increased 572%. my question is, at what point does it become a crisis? sec. nielsen: sir, if you ask the men and women of dhs they would tell you when one migrant dies, when one person is not afforded the opportunity to efficiently claim asylum, they would tell you for a community that has been the victim of
11:55 am
violence due to criminals that come in that flow, they would tell you it just takes one. it takes one terrorist, it takes one criminal to ruin a family's life and one overdose to kill an american. >> did you have any idea of the level of how difficult and dangerous the issue was just a few years ago before you took the position or has this been something that's been sort of a knowledge you've ascertained since you've been in the position as secretary? sec. nielsen: before becoming secretary, i did not have the opportunity to speak in detail to the men and women on the front lines and no i was not , aware of how dangerous the situation is. >> do you think most americans truly understand how dangerous this situation is? sec. nielsen: i do not. no. >> if most americans had a chance to go to the border would , they consider this a crisis? sec. nielsen: yes, sir. by the pure numbers coming in and our inability of the system to properly take care of them. >> what kind of job do you say the men and women that work for
11:56 am
immigrations and custom and enforcement job i.c.e. what kind , of job are they doing? sec. nielsen: extraordinary. they work every day, many times at risk of their own lives, assault on border patrol agents continue or excuse me on border patrol officials continue to rise. they do it with compassion. they live in these communities. they enforce the law but they , want to make sure and continue to ask me to ask congress to change the law so that the system can be more humane. >> we talk about as far as people having input who actually are on the front lines doing the work, according to our numbers in 2017, we talk a lot about children and we should. we should make sure that we restore as many children as we can. i did hear the three reasons of why that may be a problem sometimes prosecutorial. the guardian poses a risk or another issue that you had to take a look at. according to our numbers there
11:57 am
, were 906 children that were rescued from exploitation in 2017. does that number match your numbers as well? sec. nielsen: yes, sir. human trafficking child exploitation are something we are working on and about to release the first ever dhs strategy to combat that. the numbers are going up. >> all of these numbers continue to go up whether it is the human trafficking or it's the drug smuggling, the former colleague just talked about the more we squeeze the border. evidently the numbers continue , to rise. numbers, can these you tell the american people this is not a manufactured crisis, this is a legitimate national emergency? sec. nielsen: this is a legitimate national emergency. this is a twin crisis. we can do better as a country. we have to have a system we can protect vulnerable population, secure our border, which is our sovereign responsibility. we can protect communities while facilitating legal trade and travel. >> thank you. the chair recognizes the gentle
11:58 am
lady from new mexico. >> thank you, mr. chair. secretary nielsen, i am the only member on this committee that represents a southern border district. in fact, it includes 180 miles, almost, of that southern border and a lot of it is remote, rugged terrain. we've seen in recent months by district has experienced more migrant families showing up between ports of entry and such as the boot heel of new mexico. as we learned through the tragedy of two migrant children deaths under cbp custody, most of the facilities near these rural areas aren't equipped to process large groups of migrants. we have to ensure our agents on the ground have the adequate resources and technology to effectively patrol these areas, keep our communities safe, and provide quality care to the migrants voluntarily presenting at our border. what changes in policies and procedures have you implemented to ensure that cbp can
11:59 am
adequately adapt to the rise in people voluntarily presenting at the border and who are showing up between ports of entry in these remote areas? sec. nielsen: so what we've i would take it a couple different ways. on the health screening, unfortunately, particularly because of the remote areas many , of the migrants when they reach our border are sick. i have worked with cdc, hhs, we worked with the local communities, i've spoken to your previous governor and the current governor about this issue. i've asked my bipartisan advisory council to look at this particular issue on families and children and what we can do better. we've increased our medical screening and screen every child that comes into cbp care. i.c.e. as you know, if the migrants proceed on to i.c.e. detention do receive within seven in terms of the ability to understand what migrants are
12:00 pm
coming through remote areas we're working closely with mexico to identify the flows so that we can have cbp there to rescue them as soon as possible. as you know we rescued 4,300 in distress last year alone, many coming through remote areas where they're dehydrated, they're cold, otherwise sick. they haven't had adequate resources and food for some time. we continue to look at all of the processes, but this is something that we are trying to do the best we can with in the limited resources we have. >> one of the issues that i didn't quite hear addressed there is transportation. sec. nielsen: yes. >> you know one of the children who died part of the challenge was the transportation to a medical facility. sometimes the hardest but most learned lessons come from past failures. what is the status of the investigation into the deaths of those two children and when will you release the results of those? sec. nielsen: as i understand the status of the investigation right now it's with the medical
12:01 pm
examiner until the medical examiner in both cases releases their final findings our office of professional responsibility and investigator general cannot complete their report. i did ask this question recently. i have not been able to ascertain from the m.e. when that will be done. as soon as that will be done, the other parts of the oversight will wrap up their investigations and i'm sure they will provide as appropriate their findings. >> do you have any sense of a timeline? sec. nielsen: i don't. i've asked that we do it as quickly as possible. there's some extenuating starngss there. the m.e. is trying to look at information about the health of the child as they traveled along the journey. i really don't. i wouldn't want to speak for them. >> what can you do to make sure it comes happens as quickly as possible? sec. nielsen: i can just keep bugging them and ask that we do it very speedily so that we can incorporate any lessons learned into our processes and procedures. >> thank you. are you looking into the policy of metering at the ports and how that might increase the role of
12:02 pm
human traffickers to take migrants between ports of entry and also drive them to these rural areas? sec. nielsen: it does as i mentioned earlier, it does have to be an and approach, it can't be an either or approach. the management at the port is simply to ensure that cbp can perform all its statutory missions but to protect the migrants coming in. as you know, when you've seen the facilities, they were built for maybe 100 people a day. they're just not adequate to process and hold large numbers of people. >> one of the challenges, though, is if you're controlling at the ports of entry, they can still go to place between the ports of entry where there's the same lack of facilities and sometimes worse, are you looking at that impact? sec. nielsen: yes, ma'am. that's why our operators have asked for impedens and denial in the form of obstacles. >> thank you. what is done cbp done to minimize attrition and hard to fill locations such as lordsburg
12:03 pm
and deming to make sure we have agents in our remote stations? we continue to look at this. we're running short on time. happy to work with you. we work closely with the unions on this issue everything from retention bonuses to ability to add additional salary when we transfer, additional benefits on the back end. this is a problem that we take seriously and we're working with all parties on. >> thank you very much. the chair recognizes the gentleman from louisiana mr. higgins. >> thank you, mr. chairman. madam secretary, thank you for your time and dedication to our country and your devotion to restore sovereignty along our southern border. my colleague earlier put up a graph and i ask it be put up. that request had been declined. i referred to it because it shows that all of the above strategy to secure our border works. since 2000, our colleague's
12:04 pm
graph showed a decrease in illegal apprehensions, since 2000, 19 years ago, we built more than 650 miles of physical barriers along the border to help control illegal crossings, we've deployed sensor technology and increased border patrol staffing. this is exactly why a bipartisan solution exists before us, my friends, and it does not make sense to me why this has become a partisan issue since president trump's election. physical barriers, technology, and enhanced capacity to respond, they work. this does not mean the current crisis does not exist. let me just put this in context for the american people. perhaps the most famous invasion in the history of the world d day, 73,000 american troops landed in the d day invasion. we
12:05 pm
have 76,103 according to my numbers, apprehensions along our southern border last month. we have d day every month on our southern border. just to put this in context for america, yes, physical barriers work and technology works. the ability to respond and arrest, to process works. of course none of us want to separate families. we as congress we have to fix the laws and allow these law enforcement professionals to do their job. i know the men and women of border patrol to be highly professional and patriotic in their mission to secure our border. i know firsthand from my experience as a cop, my service on this committee and from standing alongside front line defenders. our border agents deserve respect. they have mine. i would like to highlight two cases, mr. chairman, which exemplify the professional
12:06 pm
manner which border agents conduct themselves. on the morning of january 22nd a honduran gentleman with his elderly wife illegally cross into the united states. they were apprehended and taken into custody by border patrol. a few days later, while still in u.s. custody, the honduran gentleman complained he didn't feel well. he received medical care, he was immediately brought to a hospital, medical center in el paso within hours the honduran gentleman was treated by a team of american doctors, less than 12 hours after reporting his discomfort, he had a brand new pacemaker surgically implanted. the next day he was given medical clearance and his follow up prescriptions. american taxpayers gave this man a pacemaker that crossed into our country illegally. we're certainly a compassionate and generous nation. another such example involves a forced separation of a mother and a child by coyotes which, by
12:07 pm
the way, human coyotes give our animal friends a bad name. the smugglers convinced a mother it was easier to move the pair separately. they separated the child from their parents. they let the 3 year old child on the banks of the rio grand. border patrol agents rescued that child. it's border patrol agents who rescue thousands of people from smuggling and trafficking routes every year. the southwest border arduous terrain, difficult, inhospitable terrain. those who choose to come here illegally do so at great risk to themselves, their family and children if they bring them. madam secretary, please share with america, how many rescues did border patrol successfully perform last year? sec. nielsen: over 4,000, sir. >> over 4,000 rescues.
12:08 pm
madam secretary, if you were given more funding, and additional qualified agents would you be able to better secure our border and more compassionately enforce the laws that you have sworn to uphold? sec. nielsen: yes, sir. again, what's important to understand, this is a national security concern to protect our border. secondly, congress has directed dhs to take operational control of the border. i cannot do that with these laws and with these resources. >> thank you. it's our responsibility to change the laws where they need to be changed. i'm committed to work with my colleagues in a bipartisan manner. mr. chairman, to change the laws as necessary. it's the law enforcement professional's job to uphold those laws and they are doing so now. i yield. >> thank you very much. the gentleman from louisiana complimented our men and women who are doing this job. for the record, madam secretary,
12:09 pm
how many vacancies do you have in cbp as of this hearing? sec. nielsen: i would be happy to get back to you. what i can tell you the good news last year the first year we were able to hire more than who left. we're reversing the trend there. >> give me a guesstimate. sec. nielsen: sir, i don't want to guess under oath. i'm happy to go get you the number. >> over 2,000 vacancies what would you say? sec. nielsen: i would say i would be happy respectfully, sir. >> does that sound about right? sec. nielsen: i will get you the number. >> 1,000. sec. nielsen: sir, i'll get you the number. >> please get me the number. sec. nielsen: yes, sir. >> the chair recognizes the gentle lady from illinois. >> thank you, mr. chairman. there are a lot of lawyers in this room and i'm not a lawyer, i'm a nurse. madam secretary, i want to be very clear about what the family separation policy is doing to children's mental and physical health. i want to know if dhs even considered their health when
12:10 pm
developing these policies? i only have five minutes. for these questions i'm looking for a yes or no answer if you could. when you officially began family separation in spring 2018, were you aware of research showing it causes trauma that can do immediate and long term damage to children's health? sec. nielsen: the information that i was aware of at the time was that the trauma is part of the journey to come up to the border illegally. >> so again, we're looking for yes or no answers, ma'am. sec. nielsen: that was a what i do know within the context of the question. >> were you aware that the trauma of family separation is connected to something called toxic stress? sec. nielsen: i am not familiar with that term, no. >> were you aware that toxic stress can actually change a child's brain because it's still developing? sec. nielsen: i wasn't familiar with the term. >> ok. were you aware that the effects of these traumas are cumulative and get worse the longer the
12:11 pm
trauma goes on? sec. nielsen: can i yes. i'll sorry i would like to clarify because we're missing a bigger point but i'm sorry. let me answer your questions. >> were you aware that traumatic effects don't go away even if a child is reunited with their family? sec. nielsen: i understand that they are no. >> ok. were you aware that family separation can lead to behavioral changes and learning delays for children? sec. nielsen: just to be clear, family separation includes the 60,000 uacs separated by their parents before they ever got to the border. >> i understand. my question is, about the traumatic effects. sec. nielsen: and so let me say this maybe it will help you with your questions. families need to be put together, children should never be put in this situation. we need to fix the system so that they're not. >> thank you. were you aware that family separation can lead to behavioral changes in learning delays for children? sec. nielsen: again, kids should be with their families. >> ok. i will take that as a no. were you aware it increases the
12:12 pm
child's risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer? sec. nielsen: i would ask all parents to go to ports of entry, not to separate their children and send them on the journey alone and not to break u.s. law. thank you. >> were you aware that it increases a child's risk of anxiety, depression and substance abuse. these are yes or no questions. sec. nielsen: ma'am, if i could cut to the chase. we're agreeing, children need to be with their families, fix the system so that we can enable them to do that. >> i understand. ma'am, i'm trying to ascertain your knowledge, your prior knowledge of the health impacts of these children when separated at the border. the american psychological association reports that family separation is on par with beating and torture in terms of its relationship to mental health. were you aware of that research prior to instituting the policy of family separation. sec. nielsen: there is no policy of family separation. what we did was increase the number of parents that we referred for prosecution. that is what we have done for the last three administrations. >> thank you. i'll take that as a no. let's go back further to the el
12:13 pm
paso pilot program for family separation that reportedly began in 2017. yes or no, did dhs consult with any pediatric health experts before beginning the pilot? sec. nielsen: i was not at dhs at that time. i was there in july. i was not aware of the pilot at that time and then i was working in a different department. ok. so that would be a no >> sec. nielsen: no, ma'am. i can't speak to it. i wasn't there. i can't speak to what i don't know. >> thank you. yes or no. did dhs collect or analyze any medical data from the pilot program to evaluate how family separation effects a child's physical and mental sec. nielsen: yes. i have an advisory council looking at it who includes a well known doctor looking at these issues. >> can you provide a copy of that data and dhs's analysis to our committee? sec. nielsen: of course. the report is not finished but everything is public. >> great. did you consult with any pediatric experts before the policy officially began in the spring of 2018? sec. nielsen: we generally and regularly work with them. as you know the children are cared for by health and human
12:14 pm
services. >> right. sec. nielsen: we follow all guidelines by the a.m.a. we work closely with the medical community. >> would you provide a copy of that communication from dhs with those experts to the committee? sec. nielsen: sure. anything that's available. >> thank you. so the american academy of pediatric wrote to dhs six times to explain how family separation hurts children and made a number of public statements. yes or no are you aware of the warnings? sec. nielsen: i am. i continue to ask this committee to work with me so parents do not separate their children. there are 60,000 last year separated by their parents. you're talking about 2,000 children that resulted from their parents choosing to break the law which is why i've continually asked parents to go to a port of entry. >> thank you. so from what i have heard today i'm not sure if dhs was so negligent they didn't know how traumatic it was for separation or did it anyways in my opinion both are unacceptable. tearing kids and their parents apart like this is immoral un
12:15 pm
american and plain wrong. thank you for holding this hearing. secretary nielsen i will be following up. i yield back. sec. nielsen: i would like to respond. >> take children from u.s. citizens as well. putting them with domestic >> the chair recognizes the gentle lady from arizona. sec. nielsen: sir if, i could quickly because it's important to put this in a brief context. ok. >> the gentle lady's time has expired. sec. nielsen: i didn't have any time just to be clear to respond. but ok. thank you, with respect. i appreciate that. >> madam secretary. sec. nielsen: oh, thank you. >> editorializing is not part of the rules. i just remind you of that. the gentle lady from arizona.
12:16 pm
congresswoman lesko. sec. nielsen: thank you, mr. chairman. thank you secretary for being here. you have a very difficult job and i believe you're doing a good job. i have five minutes. i have a question, but i do want you to follow up on what you just wanted to say. sec. nielsen: i just want to clarify quickly there's so much misunderstanding. there was the only instances at which children have ever been separated in the last two years is three instances that i went over which is long standing practice, and when the parents chose to break the law. just like when parents break the law in the united states of america, we do not put the children in jail with parents. so the parents came illegally. if they had come to a port of entry there's no family separation. if we pick up a family on the interior, there's no family separation. which is why there has never been a comprehensive policy of family separation. i'm sorry, ma'am, please. >> thank you. madam secretary, would you
12:17 pm
categorize or believe that the men and women that are with the border patrol and i.c.e. are experts on illegal immigration and what's happening at the border since they're there each and every day in dealing with these items? would you believe they're experts on this? sec. nielsen: i do, yes, ma'am. >> and madam secretary, mr. chairman, madam secretary, do you believe, would you say that these men and women who work for department of homeland security, who have the boots on the ground, each and every day, and are dealing with this do they believe that there is a crisis on our southern border and a national humanitarian and security crisis? sec. nielsen: yes, ma'am. >> and thank you. and madam secretary, as you as someone who is the head of this agency, who i assume has gone to the border numerous times, has talked to border patrol agents and i.c.e. agents and other dhs employees on numerous occasions,
12:18 pm
do you consider yourself well versed in what is happening at our southern border and what is happening about illegal immigration in our country? sec. nielsen: i do, yes. i've taken substantial opportunities to meet with the experts and to understand the problem and the complexity of the laws. >> thank you. and so therefore, madam secretary, i would ask you, do you believe that we are in a that there is a crisis on our southern border, that there is a national security and humanitarian crisis at our southern border, and do you believe that the president of the united states was justified in declaring a national emergency? sec. nielsen: ma'am, it is an emergency. as the secretary of homeland security, i can no longer assure you of who is coming into this country, that is a direct national security threat. we're on par to have over 900,000 this year. first of all. second of all i have seen the vulnerable populations and i have been to mexico and talked to the northern triangle countries.
12:19 pm
this is a true humanitarian crisis that the system is enabling. we have to change the laws. >> thank you, madam secretary. you know, i was here when we tried to pass immigration law last year, which would have combined common sense immigration reforms that would have helped solve some of these problems, especially the cartels abusing our loose immigration laws on asylum claims. and it would have helped decrease the number of people that are coming thousands of miles to get into the united states, that you have said 30% of the women are being sexually assaulted. i believe you said the children, the girls, at 10 years old, have to be tested for pregnancy because of these sexual assaults that are going on. this is just please, my colleagues, please, let's work
12:20 pm
in a bipartisan fashion. we were trying to be bipartisan last year when we tried to pass immigration reform combined with border security funding. unfortunately, not one of my democratic colleagues voted for that. the bill did not pass. would we please stop being so partisan on this issue and against president trump and please, let's try to solve this problem for the sake of our entire nation. thank you. i yield back. >> thank you very much. to the gentle lady from arizona, there's no question about bipartisan. but if it's just one side, you know, democrats do have opinions and when our opinions are not valued, then we vote against it. a genuine bipartisan effort in this area and other areas would be more than appreciated. madam secretary, according to
12:21 pm
your records, at the end of fy '18, there were 3,740 vacancies in cbp, there was 1,815 vacancies in border patrol. so, i await your numbers. but that's a lot of vacancies. and if we have some problems, some of us would say, let's fill the vacancies that congress has been so graciously supportive of accommodating you. but almost 5,000 vacancies is a lot of vacancies. sec. nielsen: sir, if i could, really quickly. we would be happy to work with you on that. as you know, we have new hiring strategies. i will just note that it's a very difficult environment right now. it's a very dangerous job. we have an increase of 40% assaults on border patrol.
12:22 pm
we are working to hire. we're doing more fairs, more ways, happy to work with you on that. >> madam secretary, i look forward to working with you. if you bring it to our attention that it's a problem, we'll work with you. but to my knowledge, it has not been brought to my attention as chair, nor have we ever had a hearing talking about the problems with filling vacancies within that department. if there is an issue to go with it, we would be more than happy to work with you. the chair now recognizes the gentle lady from michigan. congresswoman slotkin. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, secretary nielsen, for coming before us. i represent michigan, so the northern border. i know we're talking a lot about the southern border. let's remember that we have significant border locations to our north, and they shouldn't be ignored. i'm also a former cia officer and dod official. so i'm a big believer in border security and have spent my life
12:23 pm
preventing homeland attacks. but i also believe we have to be a country of morals and values. and the separation of children, it didn't matter who you were, where you got your news, the vision of a small child in a cage separated and crying, i think just hits everyone's heart. and we cannot be a country that perpetuates that. so i just want to understand, separate out from the situation the unaccompanied minors, a large group of people. there are parents, you're right, send them up here on their own coming across the border. leave that aside, because that was a big problem under the obama administration, many administrations before. the separation of families, the purposeful separation of families once they arrived as a family unit. did you initiate the separation of families for the express purpose of deterring families from coming to the united states? sec. nielsen: no. i did not. again, the whole purpose of that was to increase consequences for
12:24 pm
those who choose to break the law. that's a bedrock of our criminal, as you know the way that our criminal system works. if there is no consequences, we do not see the instances of the crime decreasing. so what we did was we increased the number of prosecutions. we didn't make up the law. the law was already there. former administrations also referred adult parents for prosecution. we took the prosecution numbers from about 20 to about 55%. >> so what did you do? i understand it's complicated. we have a big bureaucratic system. when you saw those pictures of babies in cages, what did you do? what did you do to just scream bloody murder up the chain to the president, to say, i cannot represent an agency that is forcing its border patrol to do this? what did you do? sec. nielsen: so i went to the border. i spoke to the men and women there. i looked at the facilities myself.
12:25 pm
i talked to hhs, to understand and visited their facilities, as well, to understand the care they provide to the children once they're in their custody. and then i spent a tremendous amount of time working with the northern triangle in mexico to stop the phenomena closer to the source to help stabilize those areas so that the children and families are not traveling here. >> ok. it just feels like it potentially wasn't enough if we're still dealing with those separations. sec. nielsen: just to be clear, we do not. we do not refer parents currently for prosecution, even when they break the law even when entering our country between ports of entry. >> so switching gears to the northern border. i'm also very concerned our border agents do amazing things every day. we have a much higher volume of traffic of trade coming through our northern border than through our southern border. and i'm concerned about the vacancies. have any border personnel from the northern border been moved and detailed to the southern border to fill staffing gaps? and can you give me a couple of
12:26 pm
details on that, if so? sec. nielsen: sure. we did have we have surge models throughout the department, whether it's fema, tsa. we do everything based on risk. so when we saw risk in gaps, we move around the personnel in a temporary fashion to address that gap. >> i just feel like the attention has all been focused on the southern border when in reality the volume of trade and then also the people watch listed, the volume is much higher coming through the northern border. i think you made some misleading statements, and i think it's important to be very, very specific when we're talking about a terrorist threat or watch listed individuals. some misleading information about the number of watch listed individuals coming through our southern border. can you state for the record, are more watch listed individuals coming through our northern border or southern border? sec. nielsen: so i don't remember actually answering that question. i think the question was about 10 known or suspected terrorists that we stop a day. on the southern border what i was saying is there were about 3,000 special interest aliens we stopped at that border
12:27 pm
compared to the northern border. again, as you know, the number of terrorists actually crossing the border is classified. happy to do that in a different setting. >> ok. i'll look forward to doing that and i yield the rest of my time to congresswoman rice. sec. nielsen: i would say really quickly, we do take the northern border seriously. i met with your colleagues on the senate side from michigan. we have the border strategy implementation plan coming out soon. we have a northern border strategy, which you know focuses on security, critical infrastructure and all of the enter interdependences. >> thank you for not forgetting about us. i appreciate that. >> the gentle lady from new york. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i think it's really important, taking continuing what congresswoman slotkin was talking about, about making the record very clear and not allowing any misleading statements. it was a policy announced by the attorney general of this country that families were going to be separated. that was a policy. he did not say we're going to start enforcing a law. it was a policy by this
12:28 pm
administration that only ended when there were pictures of little kids in cages that had been ripped away from their parents. so i think it's really important, madam secretary, that you talk about it and you use the right language. this was not the law. ok? this was a policy that the attorney general announced was a new policy they were going to rip kids away from their parents. so i think it's very important that the record reflect that. and i thank my colleague, miss slotkin, and yield back. sec. nielsen: respectfully, sir, i would like to respond to that. >> let me just say, do it in writing. sec. nielsen: i would like to respond quickly, because i can tell you no, no, no, gentle lady. we have been back and forth. sec. nielsen: we have. but it's appropriate for me to clarify for the record, because i think you're trying to get to the truth. i think that's what you were, too. so i just want to just quickly say that the ag memo that was issued directed all u.s.
12:29 pm
attorney offices along the southwest border to prosecute all adults who were referred for prosecution. that's what it did. that's a policy. that is a policy. >> not as you described it. madam secretary, that is a policy. when you knew that that policy was going to result in children having to be taken away from their parents. that's a policy. you should admit it. sec. nielsen: the consequence of any adult going to jail in this country is being separated from their child. that wasn't the point of it. the point was to increase prosecutions for those breaking the law and not exempt any class of aliens. >> it was very clear what the attorney general meant. >> well, we'll follow up. for the record, madam secretary, are we still using cages for children? sec. nielsen: sir, we don't use cages for children. in the border facilities that you've been to, they were not made to detain children. as the children are processed through, they are in sub parts of those facilities.
12:30 pm
>> madam secretary sec. nielsen: yes. i'm being as clear as i can, sir. respectfully, i'm trying to answer your question. >> just yes or no. are we still putting children in cages? purposely or whatever, are we putting children in cages as of today? thehildren are processed at board of facility stations that you have been at -- >> and i have seen the cages. i just want you to admit. >> sir, they are not cages. >> what are they? the border facility carved out for the safety and protection of those who remain there while they are being processed. >> no, no. secretary. we are not going to go through the semantics. -- i saw them made as
12:31 pm
cages. and you were there, all you have to do is admit it was a bad policy and change it. but don't mislead the committee. do not mislead the committee. the chair recognizes the jump from tennessee. chairman, andr. ranking member and secretary, thank you for the hard work you do leading probably one of the most diverse departments all of our government. as an emergency medicine physician, i've trained in my emergency medicine residency down in texas did some rotations in austin texas, i have pronounced opiate overdoses, i have pronounced of those people dead and it is a horrific thing to have to do. as i understand it, 300 deaths per week in this country are happening due to heroin overdose and 90% of that is coming from the southern border. it has been suggested by folks on the other side of the aisle
12:32 pm
that that is only at points of entry, and i would like to ask you if you could tell us about what happening between the points of entry, the drugs that you guys are seizing and what you're expecting it's going through? >> sure. first of all, this is another example of not either or. this committee and others who have vastly helped our -- at ports. we do see criminals continuing to take advantage of gaps between the ports of entry where there is no barrier to smuggle drugs. we also unfortunately see them using families and children as will send aten they groups of migrants across the border at one area where there's no barrier and while they are responding to that location, they then will smuggle drugs nearby through another vulnerable part of the border. there's a new york times
12:33 pm
article, i believe it was saturday, and the title of the article is "you have to pay with your body." it's about a woman who hired a coyote to bring her over the border. she was assaulted many times during the process. the article then said that she was held when she got to the united states and repeatedly raped by the coyotes. i just ask the question, i guess it's 31% of women that are coming across the border this to face similar experiences. how many women does it take being raped before this really is a crisis? >> if you are asking my opinion, it's one, its one child who dies, it's one woman who is raped because the system does not need to work that way, we can fix the system to protect vulnerable populations. dark of thank you, i would agree
12:34 pm
100% with you. in regard to the child separation that we talked about, the cages, as every call, the images that circulated around the internet were actually from the obama administration. they later found out that the pictures that circulated the internet of a child in a cage came from the timeframe when it was the obama administration. my question, doesn't it seem reasonable that all the investigations going on, you just recently have been subpoenaed to provide information about the names of children that have been separated. unfortunately, they only ask you to go back to the trump administration. the window of the trump administration, and no subpoenas. it seems to me that if it were, because we are concerned about the children, if the images are really from back in the obama administration, why wouldn't we ask for that data going back
12:35 pm
than just the trump administration? it's really about protecting and making sure the safety of the children. why wouldn't we go back to when the separation really started? let me stop you, i will answer that for you. it's because this isn't about the safety of children, it's about slamming the president. let me ask you this question, it's a hypothetical. how many lives could reserve -- could we save? if we really secure our border. again, i would be hazarding a guess, but we have 4300 that we have saved if you extrapolate out those that we find who have died along the journey. hundreds of thousands. >> i would think that, too. how many women, if we would multiply the 31%, how many women
12:36 pm
in the first few months have come across the border illegally that way? the breakdown of women from family units but the family units have continued to go up. it would be great to know that number and we can multiply it by doctors without borders being 31% and extrapolate how many women probably got raped because of their failed policies. i yield. >> i recognize the gentlelady from -- >> thank you. i've been sitting here listening to this for quite a while and i just want to make a couple of observations. one is the choreography is just amazing. question,ats as a madam secretary, you never have the answer, you don't have any of the numbers and you're going to get back to us. when the republicans ask a question, you are right on top of that with the statistics and the numbers, you got it all right in front of you. i wonder if this has been orchestrated. , we talk a great deal
12:37 pm
about the zero tolerance of family separation. you say it's not a policy, it's the law, you are obeying the law. if you are not doing it, are you breaking the law? which is it? then you say that cyber security blinking,ight that is the most dangerous thing that's facing this country. yet, you requested $8 billion only one point three $5 billion to deal with cyber security, it seems to me kind of a misplaced priority. in going back to the chairman's point about the number of vacancies at the border and our personnel, i would ask you, and i know this is a topic for tomorrow, but it's interesting that you put $1.9 million to help with that problem and an hired 35 agents. i would say there's a pretty big management problem. but my question is a broader one.
12:38 pm
we know that we need comprehensive immigration reform, we'd like to see the bipartisan. we have averaged across the aisle since i was first elected and have gotten nothing in return. it's more than just border control, we need to deal with the dreamers, the dhaka recipients, tps. they are all living in a situation of uncertainty. you testified that you had never met a dreamer last year. i wonder, is that still true? >> no, ma'am. they have a court case right now, they are legally present and we continue to review those who are part of the original application process. >> have you talked to this dreamer, do you know anything about his story? i've met 13,000, actually, in my district. i know the life stories, i know about their families. i'm not just sitting across the courtroom from them. have you met with any of them? >> that's why we agree that they deserve a legal status which is what i've said every time i testified.
12:39 pm
i support a legal process for the daca population. >> but you don't think they are a security threat? >> when they commit a crime or fail a background check, they are no longer covered under the program. >> to you feel that they are a security threat in this country? >> some of them have committed crimes and are no longer part of the daca. so by definition if you are part , you have not timid a crime. >> are they a threat to the economy? >> i support their legal status. >> you would support a claim bill to give daca recipients a pathway to citizenship? >> i would not. that is because we can't handle without handling the situation that property are to begin with i don't want to inadvertently create a new factor, i want to make sure that we secure the border and the you are able to give legal status of the population. >> so you don't think they are a security threat, you don't think
12:40 pm
they are an economic threat, but you would not support any pathway to citizenship? >> i won't support things that will continue the crisis that we have at the border, no. >> what about the people who are tps, they live here, they have been here 20 years? we have many families that are mixed status, do you see them as a security threat or economic threat, would you support some kind of protection for them as a pathway to citizenship? >> yes, and in a letter to senator shall be from the white house during the provisions negotiation, the administration also supports that. clean bill toun a give tps pathway to citizenship, you and the administration and your colleagues rough the aisle was for that? because there is a bill on the table right now. am, every time we have done a program that provides additional path to citizenship for those who are illegally
12:41 pm
present, it does serve as a factor. >> tps is not illegally present. >> we have a court case, as you know, but the program itself is temporary. so we do not have the temporary protected status but we are not deporting them as we worked through the court case. i agree with you that we need to iovide a legal status, what am concerned about is we need to make sure that we secure the border at the same time and reduce the poll factors so that people are under the impression they can come here without any legal right to stay and be subject to protection later. >> in your opening statement, you said you want to encourage and support legal immigration. tps, are not the dreamers, are not the dreamers, or not they under the category of legal immigration? was a protected temporary status, as you know. >> legal or illegal? >> neither. they are legally present. >> i understand that, thank you
12:42 pm
for your patience. >> the chernow recognizes the gentleman from texas, mr. taylor. the chair now recognizes the gentleman from pennsylvania. >> thank you. i would like to thank you, secretary, for appearing before this committee to speak on the vital issue of border security, particularly on the southern border. the consistent inability of congress to comprehensively address this matter has left you with theresident inability to take the actions that are necessary to provide what we need for protection. of border security has downstream consequences in our country. one of these i would like to refocus on and that is the opioid crisis.
12:43 pm
and the devastation and the heart break it has created, particularly in my home state of pennsylvania. too, have met with coroners as a doctor, as a legislator. the opioid related death in my home state are on the upswing. they are consistently above the national average. some reports as we have discussed indicate that almost is illegally smuggled into our country through our southern border. secretary nielsen, do you believe that a physical barrier is necessary in places of high risk along our southern border to stem the flood of narcotics into our country? >> yes, i do. >> thank you. legislator, as a facing this incredible opioid watching families
12:44 pm
separated, watching children and young adults die, do you and other experts believe that the construction of additional barriers and walls will help into oure opioid flow country? >> absolutely. >> thank you, i yield back my time. >> thank you. the chair now recognizes the gentlelady from new jersey. [laughter] in a bipartisan fashion. thank you very much, mr. chairman. thank you madam secretary for being here. i've got a whole bunch of questions on going to ask. just yes or no. what is a chain-link chamber onsed into a a concrete floor representing to
12:45 pm
your? is that a cage? >> it's a detention space that has existed for decades. inthat's a cage you put dogs when you make them stay outside. is it different? >> yes. >> in what sense? larger, it has facilities, it provides space to sit and stand and lay down. >> so does my dog's cage. are the jails different of the cages you have allowed children to be put in? the jail that you put their parents in? centers?tention most of them, no, they have a border around the outside but they essentially sleep and dorm- like conditions. >> better than the children? >> no. as migrants are processed through the border patrol
12:46 pm
station which are not built for vulnerable populations, they are there for up to 72 hours. >> i just wanted to know if the children are in cages, what do you consider detention facilities to be? i'm suspecting that you are putting children in places that seem to be less livable than these adults. i have a number of questions. i want to start by discussing a toddler who died in my home state of new jersey. after being detained by dhs, after fleeing violence in guatemala, she and her mother were detained and held in i custody at a private facility in texas --cw ice custody. within a week she began to display upper respiratory symptoms and a severe fever. she and her mother were released after three weeks in custody and cleared for travel to new jersey we did not have the required doctors to provide medical
12:47 pm
clearance. after her writing, her mother took her to the emergency room almost immediately. she remained hospitalized the rest of her life, six weeks, dying on mother's day. outside, doctors made it clear that she did not receive the medical care she deserved while in custody at dhs. of herry, after learning death, did you immediately take any action to improve access to the quality of health care at dhs facilities, yes or no? >> yes, we continue to do all we can. >> is there an outside investigation every time someone dies in the hs custody so that we can understand what happened? one ininvestigates every addition to or at the direction of -- >> on a different topic, we all should know border security is not just about the southern border area so i want to ask about a concerning program i recently learned about where tsa is working with the saudi government to create a saudi arabia and air marshal program
12:48 pm
that would have saudi government agents fly armed on flights to the united states. the saudi's are actually paying the salaries of several full-time tsa employees working on this program. as a section of the 911 commission report stated, while in the united states, some of the 9/11 hijackers were in contact with and received support or assistance from individuals who may be connected with the saudi government. madam secretary, is this really happening, number one, and would you commit to providing this committee any documentation of this program including training materials being shared with the saudis? >> we are happy to provide you materials and happy to have an administrator. >> and how long would i have to wait? >> that i can't answer but what i can do is get you an answer today as to when we could be able to provide that. >> thank you. >> i don't know if i asked this, i was talking so fast.
12:49 pm
do you continue to separate a parent from children as they come across the border? >> in three instances when the child is at risk, the adult accompanying them is not a parent or a guardian, and in the third instance, when the parent needs to go to a custodial environment. >> are any of these coming at the port of entry? >> sure, some of them might be claiming asylum, yes. >> thank you very much. i yield back. >> the chair now recognizes the gentleman from mississippi. >> thank you, mr. chairman. madam secretary, i first want to thank you and the men and women who protect our country. i want to ask you a couple questions as it relates to the current situation at our southwest border.
12:50 pm
currentlyieve we are seeing an immigration crisis on the southwest border? >> yes, i do and the numbers are increasing so quickly that our system was at the breaking point. it's clearly breaking. weand dbu -- do you believe are also facing a human trafficking crisis? >> yes, sir. >> finally, do you believe we are facing a drug trafficking crisis? >> yes. >> particularly, i want to turn the remainder of my questioning for the drug trafficking. as i look at the figures that have been provided, it appears that we are on track to see a record number of illegal narcotics that are being attempted to be introduced into our country. does that seem correct? >> yes. and, what can we do as a country, what is the single most effective thing that you believe that we can do to prevent illegal drugs from entering america? >> we need to take operation control of the southern border. that's increasing our ability to
12:51 pm
detect the ports of entry and it's also having situational awareness to impede denial and responsibilities between ports of entry. believe that a physical barrier is an important part of our strategy to decrease the flow of illegal drugs from entering the barrier. >> i believe that but most importantly the men and women and professionals. believe that. >> i think there was a question earlier about the northern border. do we have the same type of crisis at the northern border we are currently seeing a southern border? have a humanitarian crisis and we certainly do not have the numbers of those trying to enter illegally without a legal right to stay. >> and i believe you talk in your official testimony about the transnational criminal organizations, what we commonly refer to as drug cartels. we do as congress to provide you additional support as we seek to fight drug cartels
12:52 pm
from bringing their controlled substances into our country? helpful,ss has been atse have been very helpful this time, we believe we have all the stories we need. this is part of that regional compact that i mentioned that we but we also to, work very closely with international partners throughout the world to dismantle all of the illicit marketplaces. ice alone has over 200 investigations into the marketplaces to take them down where they're selling drugs. we do just in general, agree that we as a congress have not given you the tools that you and your officers need to prevent drugs from illegally entering the country across our border? >> sir, we need a barrier. we cannot take operational control of the border without it. agree,so, and i would
12:53 pm
it's the opinion of experts that you spoke with, without a physical barrier, it would be also impossible for us to secure our border from those people seeking to introduce the poison that we know as cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, fentanyl from entering through our southern border. >> yes. in terms of vanishing time. there are parts of the border where the cities in mexico and the united states are so close together that a drug smuggler can disappear in a matter of seconds and the united states without a physical barrier. madam secretary, wouldn't it be advantageous if we were able to funnel all traffic, weather of the commercial, passenger, traffic, through our ports of entry were the -- where we can then concentrate on screening individuals and vehicles entering the country instead of having to spend hours and
12:54 pm
manpower securing the unsecured portion other border that does not currently have a physical barrier? >> yes, and it would reduce the humanitarian crisis. >> and one final question, somebody from congress has whichted abolishing ice, is an agency that is under your control. my question is, would this make our communities safer, or with the american public be placed at greater risk if we as a congress took the unprecedented move to abolish this law enforcement agency? i can say with absolute certainty that the united states would be unsafe because part of the vision is anti-trafficking, countering child exploitation, child in -- countering weapons of mass instruction. they also help with antiquities and returning illicit goods, but they are a top-notch investigative unit of the united states government.
12:55 pm
they are mimicked as the best practice throughout the world. without them, we would not be able to protect children and victims of trafficking. >> thank you, i yield back. >> the chair now recognizes the gentlelady from california. >> thank you. madam secretary, the second vice chair for the congressional hispanic caucus, it has been sometime since you have met with us. would you commit today to coming back to meet with the congressional hispanic caucus? >> yes. > could we do that soon? >> yes. >> great, thank you. comey tookt james contemporary his memos on his meeting with trump and his actions. we also know that your former boss, secretary john kelly, also wrote contemporaneous internal memos about his interactions with the president, in particular how he was ordered to give mr. kushner a top security
12:56 pm
clearance. my question is very simple and i remind you that you are under a. have you taken any contemporary as memos about your interactions with trump? >> no, i have not. madam secretary, do you know how many children have died in custody under your tenure as secretary? >> yes, we have the numbers for cbp and ice. >> can you give me the numbers of how many children have died? mei can, if you will give one second, i don't want to miss speak. last year, so far this year we have had three as you know in cbp custody. >> so far, madam secretary? are you expecting more children to die? want to be, i just accurate, any death is a tragedy and any death should be prevented and part of what i have asked of this body to do is change the laws to have a better chance. >> you know the names of the children who have died? >> one was a stillborn death but
12:57 pm
the other two were fully pay and caitlin. -- philipe and caitlin. >> have you spoken with their families? >> i have not. >> i want to turn to a slide that we have. that asylumd seekers are not being turned away at the ports of entry. is that your testimony today? away, i'me not turned not sure if you are talking about the migrant protection protocol -- >> any asylum-seekers it come through a port of entry. madam tell you, secretary, either you are lying to this committee or you don't know what happening at the border. and i have been there firsthand and i have seen it twice. more recently, it just happened on saturday what i have and to be crossing the border with my mother. i'mi heard a gentleman say from honduras, i want to apply
12:58 pm
for asylum. he was already in the turnstile and the agent said sir, unless you have a visa, you need to go away. he did not say what you just said people do. they did not say here is where you go, he did not say here is the information were you go get access to counsel. upa matter of fact, i pulled my phone and started to record and i was asked to stop recording. why? they don't want the american people knowing what is happening at that southern border and madam secretary, i don't know if you know what happening, that this is happening without you knowing, that totally unacceptable and is a member of this committee, you're darn right i'm going to hold you accountable for knowing what happened at the bottom. two members oft congress had to sleep overnight and spent 14 hours in the cold on the concrete at the port of entry so that a woman who was tear gassed would be allowed to present herself because she was on u.s. soil and legally that's what it's about?
12:59 pm
did you know that? >> what i know is i would -- >> yes or no, did you know they did that? >> i know that we have a process -- >> you obviously don't know. that's when saying, you don't know these things. two members of congress. it takes to members of congress to witness somebody putting themselves up for asylum at the port of entry? that is not what the law says, are you familiar with the? asylum laws, madam secretary >> yes. . the asylum law does it say that when you are on u.s. soil at the port of entry, that you could be sent by an agent to another port of entry? is it anywhere in the asylum law? >> what we are trying -- >> it's not in there. it's a yes or no, it's not in there. because what you all are doing is not what in the confines of the law. you talk about a list, under what authority is there a u.s. law that a list of the started
1:00 pm
to have people go to mexico? do you have that authority? >> yes. > under what authority? >> that is not what the asylum wall says. i would ask can you produce every single list at the port of entry that is under u.s. -- sec. nielsen: we do not have the list. the list is in mexico. >> you don't control the list? sec. nielsen: what i mean by the list is -- >> you don't have answers. sec. nielsen: you're not giving me the opportunity. >> these are simple yes or no questions. the very last thing i want to say because my time is up is you said the way to give direction on how to implement the zero-tolerance policy, because you want to do it with
1:01 pm
compassion. do you know how outrageous that sounds? you wanted to separate children and families and he wanted to do it with -- and you wanted to do it with compassion? you let kids be separated without tracking them. do you know how outrageous that is? you have no feeling, no compassion, no empathy here. i yield back. i yield back. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from texas. >> thank you. thank you for being here and helping us answer the fundamental question on whether or not we care about our sovereignty and the rule of law in our country. unfortunately, i have a cynical view that i'm not so sure we all agree on that. that we all value the ability to manage our border effectively. a lot of questions have come up about the humanity of our policies as they should. there are some -- there is some
1:02 pm
rightful angry -- rightful anger about separation. nobody ever talks about the other issues we might have. there was a young woman in my office yesterday, she's from mexico about 18 years old. she was taken across the border, kidnapped about five years ago. on the third attempt, because they were turned back twice by border patrol. on the third attempt they made , it through and she was brought to new york city where she was raped approximately 30 times a day for five years. i don't know why nobody talks about that kind of stuff. when i was at the border in mcallen in one day in one location, 16 kids came across with adults that were not their parents. further questioning and follow-through led to a stash house of 54 people kidnapped inside in houston. nobody talks about that humanity. those are direct results of the fact that our asylum laws are taken advantage of. those are a direct result of the fact that that woman in my
1:03 pm
office was allowed to walk straight across the border, nobody stopped her. there is no wall, nothing. would have been turned back otherwise and not been in new york city to suffer the absolute nightmare that she did. and then we get to the question of whether walls work and this has been a really fun conversation over the last couple of months. do walls work? madam secretary, would you agree that there's three parts to security, personnel, technology and barriers. sec. nielsen: absolutely. can you just take one of those away? sec. nielsen: no. >> when i was down in mcallen and brownsville, what we see is brownsville has about 35 miles worth of barriers. and as a result, only 6% of the crossings in that sector take place because walls work. would you agree with that? sec. nielsen: walls work. yes, sir. in -- >> in mcallen about 1,000 people , were crossing on some days, because they don't have the infrastructure. it would you agree that the biggest difference between the
1:04 pm
mcallen corridor and the brownsville corridor would be the physical barriers? sec. nielsen: yes. >> been a lot of red herrings that have been thrown out to argue these points. drugs like fentanyl come through point of entry. we know. you would agree with that, right? sec. nielsen: yes. >> does that have anything to do with whether we need barriers between ports of entry? there is just that conversation about if we need more technology because then the border agents can just chase people around, as we see -- because we can sense them coming through. is that the only solution do you need that plus barriers, plus personnel? sec. nielsen: we need all three and the ability to detain and remove.he border crossings are the lowest in years. 400,000 last year, although quickly on the rise. 76,000 just this month. the point is often made that because it's lower than in the year 2000, there is no crisis. is that accurate? is 400,000 a year a low number? sec. nielsen: respectfully, it
1:05 pm
is because of the flow. it's because these are families and children. that is why it's a crisis. it's a terrible, horrific journey that they undertake. >> let's get to that. as these arguments are made against points that, frankly, we're not even making, you mention the children and why that's the nexus of this crisis. why does that happen? is it because of our asylum laws, is it because of the fact that if you bring a child across the border -- well, and i think you mentioned this before, if you bring a child with you, it's your ticket into the united states. all you have to do is claim asylum. would you agree our asylum process is completely taken advantage of? sec. nielsen: yes. >> would you agree that if we were to put more resources at points of entry, so that we could humanely bring people in and hear their asylum case but not let them loose into the country, would that dramatically
1:06 pm
reduce these illegal crossings, as well, would that be part of the solution, as well, to reform the actual asylum process? sec. nielsen: yes. >> are there any other issues you want to follow up on? sec. nielsen: i appreciate that. i would just say that my heart breaks for the system that we have. it does not allow us to help vulnerable populations as soon in their journey as we need to help them. there is nothing humane about a system that contemplates what we see today, that contemplates 60,000 children coming across the border unaccompanied. that contemplates the rape and abuse, the trafficking, the child exploitation. the 70,000 americans who died last year from drugs. i am extraordinarily compassionate in my job, which is why i'm asking congress to work with me to change the law so we can have a safe and orderly flow, so we can take care of those who need a silent. -- we need asylum. so we can take care of the vulnerable populations who
1:07 pm
believe they have no options in their country. that is why i spend so much time in the northern triangle, to help them build resilience and stability. apologies, but thank you for the time. i just wanted to clarify. >> thank you. >> ms. nielsen, before i move to mr. rhodes, just very quickly, any thoughts on a matrix to measure the efficiency of all these taxpayer-invested dollars? does a wall work? how efficient is that versus, you know, investing, for example, in a fusion center in the northern triangle? any thoughts? are we putting one together, these matrix and how these investments work? sec. nielsen: yes. a lot of that is covered in the border security improvement plan, but we're happy to come brief you in detail on anything you would like. >> would love to have a detailed deep dive on the efficiency. >> thank you.
1:08 pm
secretary, good to see you again. and i want to start off -- first of all, i don't doubt your love of this country and i understand that you are serving it. that is not what this is about. what this is about here is solving problems and saving lives and upholding our values. my district, staten island and south brooklyn, has lost an ungodly number of people to the opioid epidemic. my district has lost an ungodly number of people to terrorist attacks. so as we look at the facts, i want to make sure that we are operating on the same plane here. first of all, is it true that your own department's data shows that the vast majority of drugs coming through the border, heroin, methamphetamine, fentanyl, are found at ports of entry? sec. nielsen: where we can detect it, yes. >> and most cases, it is over 80%?
1:09 pm
that is what i want to get into next. so now, you could easily say in response to that, that's true, but that's just what we're measuring. do you have any sense then of across the entire border --across the entire country, hypothetically, theoretically, based off your simulations, what percentage of our drugs is coming in from ports of entry or any other sources, what is the breakdown. sec. nielsen: the breakdown -- and i'm happy to show you the modeling. we would love to come in and chat more. what i can tell you is the instances of interdiction of illicit drugs has gone up across the board. so it's gone up at the ports of entry thanks to new technology. but it's also, unfortunately, gone up between ports of entry. when you try to compare the two, the majority of the drugs continue to come through the ports of entry, but we are seeing the amount increase between the ports of entry. >> so the vast majority are still coming through the ports of entry based on these models?
1:10 pm
what are your priorities based on that model and for the respect of all of our intelligence -- because i'm doing my best to respect yours -- what are your priorities to address fentanyl streaming into our country and killing our kids? sec. nielsen: so what we do, we look at it from a risk-based perspective, today's threats, but we also have to anticipate where the flows go tomorrow, which is why between the ports is concerning. but as you know, we also look at the mail so we use the authorities we have to work to identify the fentanyl coming from china. we're working with china on -- they have agreed to make illegal some of the precursors to fentanyl. we are working there. we have border enforcement security teams throughout the nation where we work with state and locals on investigations to really get at the cartels and trafficking within the country. and then we work at the source through the national targeting center with our international partners to ensure as much as we
1:11 pm
can -- >> what i did ask, and, again, i'm trying not to be adversarial here. in terms of based off this model and the fact you're dealing with limited -- zero sum amount of funds, your priorities, my understanding are mail, ports of entry. i did not hear you say, though, that my priority to prevent the children in staten island from dying from overdoses is the border, is the border wall. i want to understand here because that is what we have declared a state of emergency around. so i want to understand how many less children will be dying because of this border wall. i do not understand the math or the science or the planning behind this. that is my issue. i do not understand how this leads to any positive effect on the opioid epidemic. to any positive effect in terms of our efforts, counterterrorism. what models are these based off of? sec. nielsen: we are happy to
1:12 pm
come share with you in detail, sir. but in general, the impedence and denial prevents that smuggling through that part of the border, where we have physical barrier. so the criminal then has a choice. they can try to smuggle through the ports of entry, where we're also increasing technology or go and find another part of the border that is unsecured. >> you think that our current stance with this additional investment at ports of entry is satisfactory? sec. nielsen: no. i think it helps us at the ports of entry, but what we see is the increase of drugs between ports of entry. >> how much more money do you need on the ports of entry? now we have: right , this influx of nir machines. directly to see how much more that improves our ability to interject. >> thank you. >> the chair now recognizes mr. green from the state of texas. >> thank you.
1:13 pm
madam secretary, what happened to "give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. send these, the homeless, the tempest tossed to me. i lift my lamp beside the golden door." what happened? madam secretary, asylees are not illegals. madam secretary, do you know the number of people who came through ellis island? sec. nielsen: no. >> i do. 12 million. do you know where they came from? sec. nielsen: all over the world. >> i do. germany, ireland, britain,
1:14 pm
scandinavian countries, southern and eastern europe. they were not illegals. there was no flotilla in new york harbor to prevent them from coming to ellis island. there was no family separation at ellis island. past administrations have -- when asylees were trying to get to this country, found ways to accommodate asylees. they didn't build walls. when the cubans were fleeing castro, we created wet foot/dry foot. one foot on dry land, and you could walk on in to a pathway to citizenship.
1:15 pm
madam secretary, do you know who scarface is? i'll tell you. al capone. the son of italian immigrants. not all of those people who came through ellis island were saints. scarface was a bootlegger. dealt in prostitution, gambling. one of the greatest criminals this country has ever suffered. the son of immigrants. it's unfortunate. i would never want a scarface in our country. i don't want ms-13 in our country. but i also don't want to see a wall as a solution to a humanitarian crisis. madam -- to a humanitarian crisis. madam secretary, these border patrol agents are also victims.
1:16 pm
the children are the agents of victims, too. because they are required to enforce a corrupt policy. a policy that separates babies from their mothers, places them in cages. i was at the border, i saw those babies locked up on top of each other. we we would not treat animals -- the humane society wouldn't allow it, the way those babies were treated. madam secretary, they are victims. you have all of these vacancies, in part because a good many people don't want to be a part of that kind of circumstance. they are victims, too. the children are victims and the people who are forced to do what they are doing to these babies are victims, too. madam secretary, here is the
1:17 pm
problem. we have surpassed our color quota. there are those who believe that we already have too many people of color in this country. and these, one of whom happens to be the president of the united states of america, would institute policies that will prevent people of color from coming to this country. white babies would not be treated the way these babies of color are being treated, madam secretary. this is about color. we opened our doors. your tired, your poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free. except we now have our quota of people of color.
1:18 pm
i yield back the balance of my time. sec. nielsen: if i could just respond to a couple of things. >> if she responds, i would like the opportunity to respond to her response. >> the gentleman made statements, he really didn't ask questions. in the interest of time, we're going to go to the gentleman from kansas city. >> thanks, mr. chairman. thank you, madam secretary, for being here today. i'm conflicted. in seminary, we were required to study robert frost and dr. john swanly, legendary author and theologian, forced us to study all of the writings of robert frost.
1:19 pm
one of them is called "mending wall," which you may be familiar with. one of his most famous, wrote it in 1914, just outside of boston. and when you have to dissect that, what did robert frost mean in the opening line, which says, "something there is that does not love a wall." "something there is that does not look a wall." robert frost, 1914. he is saying, nature -- shorten this. nature or god does not love a wall. and we can speak euphemistically, metaphorically. that walls don't make good neighbors. walls make long-term enemies.
1:20 pm
and i may be wrong about everything. i studied seminary for college and then spent 3.5 years in seminary. and so we studied this whole issue. and if you look at the great wall of china, do you have any idea how many times china has been invaded since they built the wall? sec. nielsen: no. >> you wouldn't know that. most historians would say a lot because we can't even figure out how many times they have been invaded. they started building on it in 200 bc, primarily to keep the hans out, the aliens, i guess we would call them today. as you know, that didn't help.
1:21 pm
it went all the way through the ming dynasty. what i'm trying to come to a conclusion for of my question is, do you see anything wrong with the united states of america, the most powerful nation that god has allowed to exist building a wall? sec. nielsen: the idea in part of the wall is to ensure a safe and orderly flow, which actually protects those traveling when they come through the desert or more remote areas. they put themselves at risk and they almost always do that by paying a smuggler who then preys upon them. the idea of the barrier is a safe and orderly flow so migrants who choose to come here, come through a legal port of entry where they can be cared for. that is where we can provide them the best medical care and that's where we can most quickly process their claim. >> thank you.
1:22 pm
the busiest and longest land border in the world is what? sec. nielsen: i would say it is ours. >> the busiest and longest land border in the world is between the united states and canada. sec. nielsen: it is not the busiest, but it is the longer border, yes. >> we might have to have an argument about the busiest based on -- i don't want to get into the trade amounts coming across the border from canada. we have a lot of illegal people coming across the border, particularly between vermont and quebec. and the going fee is about
1:23 pm
$4,000 to bring people across the border. and it just -- and the numbers coming across, i'm sure you know this, are increasing. and so i -- my final question, i have 12 seconds, would you be okay with building a wall to separate the united states and canada? sec. nielsen: we do everything by risk. right now, the risk is not such that it would necessitate physical barriers. but we do very closely work with the canadians to ensure a safe and orderly flow. what we do is we continue to analyze that daily to ensure that we do have mechanisms to provide security to both countries and to those traveling populations. >> my time is up. >> thank you very much. the chair now recognizes the gentlelady from florida. >> thank you so much, mr. chairman. and sec. nielsen:, thank you for
1:24 pm
being with us today, it's good to see you again. i apologize for being a little late so you may have already answered this question. let me ask you, do you agree with the president declaring a state of emergency at the border? sec. nielsen: i do believe it is an emergency. >> do you think that process could be used to address mass shootings in america to make sure we have resources we need? sec. nielsen: i would have to refer you to -- >> what are your personal opinions since you do deal with the security of our nation, what do you feel about declaring a state of emergency as it pertains to mass shootings in this country since countless numbers of people die right before our very eyes on a regular basis? sec. nielsen: we need to do a lot more. that is a particular authority the president has. in general, is it an emergency we need to address? yes. >> so do you think that declaring a state of emergency
1:25 pm
as it pertains to mass shootings would be a process that the president should consider? can't speak toi his particular authority, but what i can say what we are doing at dhs. >> how many customers or border patrol agent's have you had died -- have you had die during your tenure? sec. nielsen: i have the numbers here, but it is about 15-20. not in the line of duty. >> how many at the border? how many in the line of duty? sec. nielsen: zero. >> how many agents which is a -- agents would you say have been seriously injured in the line of duty at the southwest border during your tenure? sec. nielsen: we could get you those figures. we have at least 60 instances of rocking's and the assault have gone up 40%. >> i remember a city near orlando where there was one
1:26 pm
murder in january and one murder in december and they reported that murder rate has gone up 100%. so you are not, you don't know in terms of serious injury, how many officers or agents have been seriously injured during your tenure? sec. nielsen: happy to get you that information. >> at this crisis of the border. ok. change of direction for just a minute. you know that the fifth amendment requires that private property owners must receive just compensation for property seized under eminent domain, is that correct? sec. nielsen: yes. >> in some cases the federal , government can assume ownership for private property before compensation has been adjudicated and before a land owner has received payment for their land. we can certainly debate whether seizing land from private property owners is the right thing to do or not. we know that some property owners in texas whose land may
1:27 pm
be seized, they had deeds predating statehood in texas. but i would like to focus on just compensation. determining just compensation seems to be a challenge for the department. there have been reports about the discrepancies between those who are represented by -- have legal representation versus those who don't and what the department feels the land value is versus other sources. how does the federal government determine just compensation for land seized at the southwest border? sec. nielsen: it is based on market rate, acreage and a variety of other factors including the terrain of the land. >> usa today has reported that some landowners were offered less than $100 while the market value was up to 120 times greater. and you said that they used fair market value to determine that? sec. nielsen: the general market value, yes. >> do you have any explanation for the discrepancies? sec. nielsen: i'm happy to look further into it.
1:28 pm
>> what federal resources exist to help landowners at the mercy of the federal government to negotiate just compensation for their land? sec. nielsen: to my knowledge, the united states does not have the ability to pay for counsel for them. but of course it usually takes 12 to 16 months for this process to complete. and so during that time we work very closely both with the area, the courts, if they're involved and the landowner. >> looking at the area in the border where the president seems determined to build a wall regardless of the necessity to do that, how many landowners would be affected? sec. nielsen: i don't have a particular number, ma'am. as you know and as you described, some of the parcels, it's difficult to determine who owns them. we have actually people looking through to make sure we do our best.
1:29 pm
>> i am out of time. but we certainly have a lot more to discuss on this issue. i will yield back. thank you. -- i thank the witness for her testimony in the members for their questions. i must now consent to enter statement into the record. the members of the committee may have additional questions for the witness and we ask that you respond expeditiously in writing to those questions. pursuant to the committee rules, the hearing record will be held open for ten days hearing no further business, the committee stands adjourned.
1:30 pm
[captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2018]
1:31 pm
[indistinct conversations]
1:32 pm
[indistinct conversations] [indistinct conversations]
1:33 pm
>> on newsmakers, a congressman who talks about the resolution passed by the house, the democratic approach to special counsel robert mueller, and the role in the investigation to president trump. easternrs at 6:00 p.m. on c-span. >> c-span's washington journal impacting you. coming up monday morning. we will preview the week ahead and cbs news white house reporter catherine watson. a discussion about paid family leave proposal with -- be sure to watch c-span's washington journal live at 7:00 monday morning. join the discussion. week, the senate is expected to work on a resolution for a declaration on the southern border.
1:34 pm
a vote is possible by the end of the week. four republican senators indicated they will support the motion, including -- of alaska and tom tells of north carolina. here they are explaining their positions. >> madam president, last week i announced my intention to vote in favor of house joint resolution 46. this is a resolution expressing disapproval of the president's february 15 proclamation of a national emergency. proclamatioa national emergency. at that same time i joined with my colleague, the senator from new mexico along with the senator from maine, ms. collins, and the senator from new hampshire, mrs. shaheen in the introduction of the senate companion, senate joint resolution 10. and i wanted to take just a few moments this afternoon and speak to my rationale for not only my statements but

47 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on